Are Locally Sourced Ingredients Better For Your Health?
Fresh local ingredients are becoming trendier and mainstream as people become more health-conscious, aware of what kind of food they are putting into their bodies, and how the production of that food is impacting the environment around them. Here are several reasons why locally sourced ingredients are better for your health.
What Are Locally Sourced Ingredients ?
Unfortunately, there are a lot of terms that get bandied about in the food industry. Locally sourced, organic, conventional, etc. These terms can sometimes get used interchangeably, which can cause some confusion in what they actually mean. And while locally sourced can mean organic too, that’s not always the case. For that matter, organic doesn’t always mean local, either!
While definitions can get decidedly muddy, locally sourced typically means produce and ingredients that are grown within miles of where you shop. This means they are not shipped in from another country. Sometimes, locally grown can mean the food is from another region or nearby state.
In the majority of cases, when someone talks about eating locally sourced food , they are talking about produce grown within their own community by local farmers in the area. Think flea markets, farmers’ markets, and produce stands you might find on a local street corner. The point is that the produce is grown within the local area, usually with little to no “help” from pesticides, GMO’s, or other unhealthy contaminants.
Why Buy Local Food?
When you make the choice to invest in locally grown foods, you are making an investment that pays dividends. Not only are they often healthier than conventionally produced foods and ingredients, you’re supporting your local economy and choosing eco-friendlier options that impact our environment.
Locally Sourced Foods Are Eco-Friendly
Since local foods are grown close to home, it can lower your carbon footprint. This is because the fresh food isn’t traveling a great distance, requiring less in the way of preservatives and reducing CO2 emissions. Locally grown food also helps small time farmers stay in business, making them less likely to sell their land to developers looking to build. There are also a lot of younger generation farmers buying up empty lots and using them to create urban gardens. Their success relies on people in the community buying their local produce.
Locally Sourced Foods Are Fresh
Foods that travel long-distances are often boosted with preservatives to help them retain their “fresh” appearance. But it doesn’t actually make them fresh food. Foods that are grown locally and then bought by local consumers really are fresh, and you can usually see, feel, and taste the difference. Not to mention, the foods retain more of its natural nutrition, making it more energy-dense than less fresh foods. You’ll still get nutrients with foods that are older, but with fresh foods, you may get more of them.
Locally Sourced Foods Offer Variety and Connection
Getting to know your local farmers not only helps you understand exactly what kind of foods you are nourishing your body with, but also allows you to build real human connections with your local community. This is vitally important to the health and happiness of humanity, especially in a culture where face-to-face human interaction has largely fallen by the wayside. Connection and community matters. We were never meant to lead solitary lives. Plus, locally sourced ingredients may offer more variety for your weekly family menus. It definitely allows us to provide our customers with organic catering options that are more creative and varied as well as catering packages that offer delicious menus and meals using mouth-watering, fresh ingredients we wouldn’t be able to offer otherwise.
Are Locally Sourced Ingredients Really Healthier?
The truth is, locally sourced ingredients can be healthier. But there are always variables, such as the farmer who uses unsavory production practices, takes advantage of muddy labeling and terminology to deceive consumers.
Despite that, most locally sourced food you find will be better for your health. This is because they are more nutrient-dense than their conventionally produced, travel-weary counterparts, that may be picked before they are ripe enough to eat. Unripe foods are often exposed to ethylene gas to help ripen them artificially, so they are ready to sell. Local foods on the other hand, are picked at the peak of freshness in their growth cycle and then travel very short distances to be sold to consumers. This makes them delicious, safer, and more nutritious.
Local sourced foods are also grown with the seasons. When food is grown out of season, all the things in it that make it good for you, like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, are significantly reduced. For instance, there was a study on broccoli that showed an almost 50% reduction of levels of vitamin C in broccoli that was grown out of season.
Note that local grown foods are also less laden with chemicals and pesticides (if they have any at all), which make them almost up to par with purchasing organic foods. In fact, a lot of smaller farmers follow organic practices, even if they aren’t certified. You can find these things out by building relationships with your local growers and asking them questions on how they produce their foods.
Making the choice to use locally sourced ingredients is a multi-pronged approach to living a healthier lifestyle that benefits you and the world around you. We help in this endeavor by doing our best to offer catering options that suit any budget and tastes, while simultaneously supporting the environment and the economy by partnering with local growers in the area and sourcing fresh ingredients. Buying local is an eco-friendly, win-win.