Organic foods are generally healthier for the planet—except when they're shipped thousands of miles away from where they were grown. The trendiest and smartest way to eat to save the earth—and get better tasting food in the process: Go local.
What Is Buying Local?
The rule of thumb is look for food grown within 100 miles of you or less. If you can cut down the distance your fruits and veggies have to travel, then you're stimulating jobs, protecting the environment (less travel means less carbon emissions), and supporting the community. When you eat local food, you're not just helping the environment, but are likely helping your diet. First, local farmers can pick produce when it is just ripe, ensuring that you get the best tasting food possible. And second, nobody's growing local junk food, so relying on local organic products generally helps get unhealthy snack foods out of your diet.
Bonus #1: Knowing about your food helps you enjoy it more
"You will have a much better idea of where and how your food got from production to your table if you buy local," says Jennifer Schwab, director of sustainability for SierraClubGreenHome.com.Purchasing from a local farm gives you the opportunity to visit and develop a relationship with the grower. "Let them know your preferences, get information about crop seasonality, and ask about growing processes," adds Schwab. You may even discover different types of produce that you can integrate into your diet.
Bonus #2: It's wallet friendly
Buying locally harvested, healthy food from a farmers' market is usually better for your pocketbook too. You'll save money and control where it's going. "It's estimated that 54 percent of every $100 spent locally stays in the state, whereas only 14 percent stays when you spend at a big box store," says Schwab.
If you don't live within a reasonable distance of a grower or a farmers' market, then check out a community supported agriculture group (CSA), which will help connect you to a farm. Go to localharvest.org/csa for more info.