Over the past several years, there has been a lot of research on the benefits to eating local and organic. I have highlighted these benefits in my book Farm Fresh Nutrition. I wanted to share with you how you can eat more local food.
Ways to Eat More Local
Familiarize yourself with your region’s growing seasons. What grows where and when? http://www.thevegetablegarden.info/planting-schedules
Purchase more food from local farmers by joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) with a local farm or shop a local farmer’s market. Check out places to find local food in Western North Carolina and elsewhere in the resource section on this website.
Ask restaurants and grocery stores to carry foods grown in your community. http://www.farmaid.org/site/c.qlI5IhNVJsE/b.2723729/k.92AB/Take_Action_Be_an_Active_Food_Shopper.htm
Grow your own food. Whether you have a yard or a flower pot, there’s something special about eating food you’ve grown yourself. This USDA Gardening site has great information on how to get your garden growing! http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=GARDEN_RT3&parentnav=PEOPLES_GARDEN&navtype=RT
Contact policymakers and let them know that you value a clean, local food supply. Stay current on this issue. Find out about advocacy groups on our resources.
Why Eat Green?
Foods grown organically and from heirloom seed keep our bodies and our earth healthy! Heirloom seeds have been passed down from generations and are open pollinated. Growing a variety of heirloom seed protects our gene pool of plants and nutrition. Purchase heirloom seeds from nursery or seed stores. When you go to the farmer’s market, ask if bedding plants and produce are grown from heirloom seeds. Some grocery stores now sell some local fruits and vegetables from heirloom seeds. Do your research!
Several scientific organizations have voiced concerns about the chemicals used on fruit, vegetables, and animal food and their effect on the health of humans and wildlife. Here are just a few:
The Environmental Protection Agency http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/
National Cancer Institute http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/causes-prevention/risk/ahs-fact-sheet
U. S. Fish and Wildlife http://www.fws.gov/contaminants/issues/pesticides.cfm
USDA Organic symbol The USDA Organic label helps consumers know which agricultural products are grown using sustainable methods, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering cannot be used with foods that use this label.
Find out more about the National Organic Program http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/nop
Due to cost and time, local farmers may not be certified USDA organic but may still use organic growing practices. Ask the farmers in your region how they grow their food and encourage them to use organic methods.
The Dirty Dozen list created by the Environmental Working Group to help consumers know which fruits and vegetables contain the most pesticides and these items should be purchased organically when possible. Their list of the Safe 15 lets you know which foods are acceptable to purchase conventionally. http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php