About a year ago, I began to really look at the food my husband and I were eating. As I discussed when I shared why i switched to non-toxic beauty products, our family has a history of cancer and neurological disorders.
Based on a lot of research on basic prevention tips, I switched our diet to mostly organic, locally grown fruits and vegetables through a local delivery service. I also started ordering grass-fed, free range meat in bulk directly from a ranch.
First things first, why eat local? Why does it matter? Eating local has tremendous benefits for you and the people who work to grow our food.
- The food tastes better - local produce is generally picked the day of, or at least within a couple days, of you purchasing the food so you can eat it at peak ripeness. The majority of mass-produced food is picked prematurely so it can ripen in transit - basically, you're getting a less tasty, old fruit at the grocery store.
- It's more convenient - my CSA is delivered right to my door.
- It's healthier for you - vegetables lose nutrients as they age. Fresh, local vegetables are picked and delivered to you more quickly, so the produce retains its nutrients for maximum vitamin retention benefits.
- Stimulates your local economy - buying local keeps your money in your community to grow.
- Support your neighbors - Buying tomatoes from your local farmer means his kids can afford to eat, too. (I highly suggest the documentary, Sustainability, if you're interested in the far-reaching effects of the local farm system.)
Step-by-step guide to eat local:
- Learn what is in season. Unfortunately, its just not normal to eat all types of fruits/vegetables all year long. The good thing is your peaches will be peachier and you won't be able to go back to eating lifeless tomatoes again. Check out this great recent guide from the Everygirl!
- Find local farms. I was blown away by the agriculture in our area (not a major metropolitan region by any means). We even have a super cool rice farm! Don't be afraid to #knowyourfarmer and #askallthequestions about how the food is grown. For many of them, it's their work and their passion, so they love to teach!
- Join a CSA - A CSA (stands for "Community Supported Agriculture") is a popular way to order directly from local farms. Essentially, you agree to pay the farmer upfront for a delivery each week. You get fresh seasonal vegetables on your doorstep, and the farmer gets guaranteed business - win win.
To be completely honest, I couldn't eat local without this service. Because #lazy and #travelschedule, this delivery forces me to eat healthy and experiment with new in-season vegetables when I could easily make excuses not to do it. We also are able to have grass-fed/organic meat, cheese and eggs delivered with our vegetables. It radically changed the way our family eats.
- Order directly from a ranch - Because of the research on dementia preventing foods, we have prioritized eating grass-fed beef and free range chicken. I found it to be cheaper with way more variety to order directly from the ranch. Use a service like ButcherBox, or we use White Oak Pastures.
- Go to the farmer's market - Easier said than done when your weekends are packed full of traveling, but I do like to get out and support our local farmer's markets when I can. It's a great morning date spot, and it allows you to interact with local farmers and proprietors (again, #knowyourfarmer).
- Use online resources like the Eat Well Guide - this database shows you all of the grocery stores, markets and restaurants that have invested in local, organic food. I was happy to find all my favorite restaurants were already on the list!
My final tip - don't be afraid to ask where your food comes from. Once grocery stores and restaurants see their patrons are paying attention, that's when real change is going to happen.
Please let me know if you have any tips or suggestions on local food restaurants - we're all learning together.
If you're local to the Jacksonville, Florida area, stay tuned for an upcoming post on my favorite locally grown foods!