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Recapping the Many Reasons Why We Eat Locally

Diners have been opting local ingredients for their restaurant meals, and restaurants are likewise heeding the demand.  Our spending habits are now part of a growing national awareness to buy and eat local products.   When ten years ago it was very rare to see a 26 year-old consumer give a local label a second look, now most of them check the restaurant’s menu in its smart menu cover the origin of their food, choosing regional products for their freshness and makes an effort to support their local farmers.  And restaurateurs are listening to the demand, coming up with various ways to get their meal ingredients from local sources.

This awareness came about sometime 2005, roughly six years ago.  Do we still remember the reasons why we eat local food?

Taste. First and foremost reason is the taste.  Fruits and vegetables that have been grown locally are sold to consumers within 24 hours after harvest, unlike produce that comes from another state which has been cold-stored and in transit for days or weeks.  .  Since they are handled less, the fruits and vegetables do not have to go through the rigors of shipment.   That means we get the most ripe peaches, melons and figs we can ever get.

More nutrients. Fresher food means more nutritional value, as fruit or vegetable’s nutrients diminish over time.  It obviously tastes better, too.   Because it arrives in our area within a short time, we get to be in touch with the seasons – we eat foods when they are at their most scrumptious stage, at their most abundant and not to mention being the least expensive.

Health. Local food does not come from commercial food companies, and that means our body does not consume that much processed food, which typically have sugar, fat, refined carbohydrates and preservatives.

Safety. And since we know where it comes from, the risk of harmful contamination is lessened.  Talk about bioterrorism that terror campaign which involves the possible dissemination and release of harmful pesticides and fungicides on our food, and adults of all ages get paranoid of products that come from afar.  It’s now believed healthier and safer to know exactly how our food was generated and processed.

Social awareness. Eating local helps us protect our environment, as local food reduces our use of fossil fuel, which is a major contributor to climate change.  This gas is also used in industrial food production – involved in the process of transporting, processing and packaging of the food.  Eating local also means that we are supporting smaller, family-run farms that often employ sustainable practices.  They don’t have to mass produce so they don’t over fertilize their crops, use that many pesticides and exhaust their soil.  Such practices foster soil stewardship, realizing that soil health is important for the survival of our species.  We are also, in effect, giving those farms and pastures an economic reason to stay open and undeveloped, keeping development giants from turning it into commercial spaces.

Prosperity. And lastly, eating locally impacts the economy.  The practice keeps money within the community, which throws in to the health of all sectors of the community’s local economy, hence advancing the local quality of life.

So the next time dining customers linger on the menu with its elegant leather menu cover, asking where their food comes from and exercising their right to choose the right options through their forks, we should gladly understand, keeping in mind the many reasons why we need to do so, and help them out.