The "Eat Local" and "Shop Local" trend has now become more than just a cool thing to say, as our economy needs our support more than ever during this battle against COVID. But behind the virus-driven hype and the social media hashtags, what does it really mean to eat local? And why does it matter to us so much?
Eating local isn't starting a completely new regimen. It's about thinking through our options and making food decisions that are best for our health, the people around us, and our planet. It's easier than we may have thought.
Shopping with CultivatR that delivers fresh ingredients from various Alberta farms and producers directly to consumers is 100% eating local. When we think about it, it's actually pretty easy to make eating local a more important part of our lives.
Now, why should we care about it? These are the seven reasons we should think of eating local as something that will impact our everyday lives, immediately and in the long run.
1. It gives us fresher and better-tasting food.
If you've been lucky enough to have bitten fresh carrots or a juicy tomato from your own garden, you know how incredible local, in-season produce actually tastes!
The physical proximity allows local produce to be picked when it's ripe and at its peak nutrient-density. This means local ingredients are naturally more nutritious and tastier due to their freshness. In contrast, most ingredients from the supermarkets may have spent weeks on trucks and in the fridge before reaching the grocery shelf. Produce is usually picked early, and edible protective coatings are often added to allow it to travel long distances. The extended distribution period deteriorates not only food quality but also our environment.
2. It benefits our planet too.
As we shorten the distribution chain by buying local food, we reduce pollution and waste produced during this process - waste from transportation emissions, refrigeration, etc. But the biggest thing that we are solving is food waste. Almost 40% of produce and fresh meat in grocery stores is wasted. Not only do we as consumers pay for this, but what is the point of creating an environmental impact just to throw something out. By eating locally, we can significantly reduce the amount of food waste by harvesting food on demand.
Another significant pollution source we often overlook is pesticides and herbicides, which deteriorates soil and air quality. If you've been following us, you'd know that we are very passionate about sustainable farming. We make sure that the local independent farms we work with are on the same page too. Our produce is always free of pesticides and herbicides. So the food is safe for you and the planet.
3. It brings your money back to the community.
When we buy food locally, our dollars go to the local farmers, local support businesses, delivery drivers, and warehouse workers. These are families that could be living in the same neighbourhood and whose kids go to the same school as ours. In 2020, for every dollar in food we sold, it put $18 back into Alberta's economy.
Whereas most of our money spent at supermarkets goes to marketing, distribution, storage, food processing plants and farms outside of Canada. Local farms and producers end up with a razor-thin cut due to the supermarkets' huge overheads.
4. It promotes seasonal eating.
Our bodies are built to find nourishment in the foods we are surrounded by. The cycle of seasonal produce is designed to support our health. When we eat local, we eat with the seasons. If we think about how our ancestors ate before chain supermarkets, it was whatever their surroundings and the seasons had to offer.
5. It helps us discover new foods.
We usually connect discovering new foods with exploring outside of our local geographic area. But did you know? On potatoes alone, we are featuring nine types grown locally in Alberta - each has a unique set of characteristics. If you think about it, how many types of potatoes can you find at the local supermarkets?
Opting for local ingredients gives us more options for the ingredients we often take for granted and allows us to become more creative in the kitchen.
6. It gives power to the consumer.
Asking questions about your food is something we should be doing but we often owe it to ourselves. Where and how is our food grown? And who is doing it? Buying food local gives us the answers. Feel free to reach out to us anytime if there's anything you want to ask us about!
Think of your money spent on groceries every week as your vote. Your vote on where your food should come from. Your vote on whether produce should be grown in mass farms or local independent farms. Your vote on how much food should be produced and wasted. When you choose local, you contribute to a more predictable food system that ties food supply directly to local demand and consequently reduces food waste.