Local food can be considered foods that are produced not so far away from where it would be consumed. It is considered fresh, non-synthetic, and healthy, containing nutrients in its natural form. Eating local food sure has its benefits. They are a vital source of many essential elements to good health.
People have enjoyed local foods for millenniums rather than commercially prepackaged foods, which are often associated with heart disease, cancer, stroke, and other serious illnesses. So, what are the health benefits of eating locally?
1. Better Taste
Local food presents a wide variety of flavors and tastes that its processed counterparts cannot easily outmatch. Even though local foods are often void of synthetic sweeteners and other condiments, they do have a way of doing magical things to our taste buds.
Ever wondered why most soft drinks and juices, and even snacks attempt to represent a particular natural flavor? It’s not news that you regularly see things like: “Orange Flavour,” “Pineapple Flavour,” etc. This is because local food maintains its flavor. And flavor cannot be waved aside!
Local food is considered relatively very fresh. Since it is not synthesized or loaded with sweeteners, it maintains remarkable food integrity. Food integrity can be considered the state of being whole and untempered. Local food integrity is second to none.
3. Void of Dangerous Toxicants
A toxicant is a substance able to contaminate or harm the body if ingested. Except in cases where farmers use artificial fertilizers to grow their food, apply pesticides against weeds, or wash their produce using strong chemicals, local food does not contain as many toxicants or allergens when compared to synthetic food. This is because local food is still in its natural state. It’s not been bombarded with chemicals that can harm a person.
4. It is More Nutritious
Comparatively, local food is much more nutritious than synthetic food, containing nutrients in an unaltered state. As mentioned earlier, local food does have remarkable food integrity; its nutrients have not been tampered with through robust processing methods.
In the processing of non-local food, a lot of nutrients are lost to boiling, frying, packaging, etc. But with local food, it is different.
Vegetables bought from local farmers, for example, would contain more vitamins because they have not been washed with dyes or sundried or ground. Fruits, too. Vitamin C, for example, is a water-soluble vitamin that’s required to maintain great body tissues.
Shortly after fruits are harvested, the vitamin begins to deplete. So, if fruits are not eaten locally and fresh before being transported, Vitamin C might have been completely depleted.
Local food also presents a high content of antioxidants, which are necessary for immunity against diseases.
5. Local Food is Accessible
Ever wanted to eat a certain food so bad but couldn’t because you had to travel a distance to go get it? With local food, this is barely the case. Local foods are easy to get. You can find them in small community markets, in farmhouses, etc.
For example, if you stay around a beach, you would agree that it is easy to get fish. If you stay around poultry, it is easier to get turkey and chicken, etc. And most times, this is at a lower cost.
6. Buying Local Food is Supporting Local Economy
When you buy local food, the money circulates around your locality. This means that your money returns to local resources. The production of more foods would be encouraged. A typical rural area’s economy depends on the local markets. If the markets are doing well, the rural economy would. And this is going to result in economic and social growth. They’d be more social amenities, like schools and hospitals, etc.
7. Local Food Benefits the Ecosystem
Since local food is not processed so much, heavy machinery is most times not needed in its production. Plus, it is not transported a long distance, so heavy trucks and vehicles are usually not needed for its transportation.
What this means is that there are usually fewer carbon emissions by machines and vehicles in the production and transportation of local foods, respectively.
Carbon is a gas that is known to be harmful to the ecosystem, causing environmental issues like gas pollution and global warming. So, when less carbon is produced, as in the production of local foods, the ecosystem’s health is maintained more.
Also, since local foods are not as packaged as processed foods, they do not pollute the environment with waste. Waste and plastic pollution is now a thing of concern around the world. Eating local food curbs this plastic pollution in a way. And this is one of the reasons why local food is encouraged.
Since local foods are grown locally, the production of local foods encourages biodiversity too.
8. Buying Local Food Encourages Consumer-Farmer Relationships
In small communities where food is grown locally and has to be bought from local markets, buying local foods can promote the relationship between farmers and consumers. And this direct relationship between consumers and farmers can promote social growth.
In places where two or more communities exchange their farm produce—let’s say community A grows maize and has no tomatoes, and community B grows tomatoes and has no maize, there might be an exchange of resources between both communities. This exchange is going to encourage peace and help against inter-communal conflicts.
Also, since there is direct contact between consumers and producers when it comes to buying and consuming local food, there is always room for improvement as feedback is given in real-time.
Consumers can complain that a particular fruit has been kept too long and has begun to spoil. Farmers would take correction from this complaint and go on to do the necessary.
Buying and consuming local foods would not only benefit you. It’ll benefit the community too. Health benefits of local foods include more vitamins, more antioxidants, and free radicals, etc. Community benefits include inter-relationships, etc.
Instead of eating processed foods such as white rice, pasta, and white bread, which have been stripped of much of their nutritional value, go for local foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
If you’re a parent, you can also protect your children’s health by helping them to acquire a taste for local foods. For example, give them nuts, fresh fruits, and vegetables for snacks instead of french fries, chocolates, or candy.
Photo by Nadine Primeau on Unsplash