What Buying Local Food Means for You

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We’re all trying to make our dollar stretch as far as possible wherever we can. Get more bang for the buck, right? Decisions about where we put our financial resources are investment decisions. That includes our food budget dollars. That investment may mean more than you realize.

In this busy life, it’s not difficult to take our health for granted as we juggle the demands of daily living. Until illness steps in, impacts our health and the juggling turns into a jumble. In terms of our health, quality food and a nourishing diet helps fuel a strong and resilient body.

Why Buy Local PosterFresh, local produce makes a difference in quality fuel for the body. Local produce doesn’t have to travel as far and can be picked at its peak ripeness. A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect on blood sugar, which can help keep appetite in check. Eating non-starchy vegetables and fruits may even promote weight loss. Once plants are picked the important nutrients they contain, like Vitamins A, B, C, and E as well as Calcium, Fiber, and Potassium, begin to deteriorate. The fresher the produce, the higher the nutrient levels, the greater the flavor and the better for our (and our family’s) bodies and minds. Quality counts.

Including locally produced foods in our meals can help build resilience in and strengthen your community. Where we live, work and play benefits from our food dollars. Not that long ago empty grocery store shelves emphasized foods journey from farm to the table. Getting onto the grocery store shelf depends on different parts of the food supply chain: transportation, processing, packaging, advertising, agribusiness, etc.… leaving the grower a very small percentage of the food dollar. In contrast, the money that we spend with local farmers and growers stays close to home and is reinvested with businesses and services in our community. It literally pays to know our farmer.

Local food benefits our environment as well. Here in NC we currently have 8 million acres of farmland, but we’re losing agricultural lands to development quickly. According to the American Farmland Trust, NC is the second-most threatened state when it comes to the conversion of agricultural lands to other uses. Our farmers and producers are our neighbors, growing their families here too. By investing our food dollars locally, we help maintain farmland and green and/or open space in our community.

Our neighbor farmers and producers are feeding their own families here too. They can tell us how the food was grown and harvested. When we know where our food comes from and who grew it, we know a lot more about that food and about our community.

Supporting the local food system makes sense. To find out more local food and local events, contact me at minda_daughtry@ncsu.edu.