Being born in Upstate New York and being surrounded by farm land has always made me appreciate the local farmer.
My high school has been touted as having the largest Future Farmers of America sect in all of New York, and it something I wish I took greater advantage of as I was growing up. Now that I am a little older and a little bit wiser, when I go home to shop; I don’t go to Walmart.
When it is the growing season and crops are out, I go to the farms or the farmers market, that’s it!
There are several reasons why it is important that we make use of local produce, as it is a benefit to the community, the consumer, and to the grower.
Local produce can generally be considered as food grown within 100 miles from the location where they are purchased, but for all intents and purposes it is referring to the local farms in your area.
The sooner you eat fresh foods the better the nutrients you will get from them, even though some foods are treated with special gasses which are meant to delay their ripening time, but they are delayed because it will take days or even months for the foods to arrive.
Foods treated with these products are naturally less nutritious regardless, and there are far healthier options.
Studies have even revealed that several nutrients are formed as fruits ripen and when the fruits are picked, gradually the cells start shrinking; the sugar content converts to starch and the nutritional value starts to diminish.
You will have the opportunity to choose from different varieties when you patronize local produce, you are not restricted to the imported ones alone
Benefits of Eating Local Produce
There are many advantages of using local produce apart from supporting the local farmers who will also support all their workers, as it has both health and socio-economic benefits. Based on the suggestion of the University of Michigan extension, you will find some benefits of buying local produce below:
Local Produce is Much More Fresh than From Larger Markets
The best time to purchase local produce is to purchase them from the growers.
Most fruits and foods come in seasons and buying from the growers when the produce is fresh will ensure that the produce tastes better and fresher than the old stocks that may have traveled long distances.
Food that is intended to travel distances needs to be treated with any number and type of chemicals too last, making your food far less healthy to eat.
Local Produce is More Nutritious For Many Reasons
Local foods are more nutritious because they are directly purchased from the growers; most foods gradually weaken in their vegetable content as they stay longer after harvest.
Foods that are imported have been transported through different means and may not be as healthy as the freshly harvested produce.
Local Produce is Produced with More Genetic Variety
In our modern agricultural system, plant varieties are usually selected based on certain criteria: their ability to withstand harvest, the uniformity with which they ripe, their duration when stored and their ability to survive their packing.
As a result of this selection process, there will not be a limited genetic variety when we use local produce, we help to preserve genetic diversity.
Local Produce Is Grown Safe so Farmers Can Retain Customers
Local produce is safe; the farmers are closer to you and therefore know that they must sell good produce.
There is this unique assurance that comes from buying directly from a farmer, you know what you are buying.
Purchasing from a large corporation that is protected by any number of lawyers and clauses assures you that whether the food is good or bad, there is nothing you can do about it.
Farmers depend on selling good products so that their customers come back to them, you are protected by this fact.
Buying Local Produce Enhances Your Community
Buying from a local farmer enhances community, as knowing the farmer and interacting with them will allow you the opportunity of knowing the times and seasons produce is best, and also varieties and their differences.
Buying Local Produce Boosts the Local Economy
You are also preserving the means of sustenance of the farmers and their laborers, farming is an occupation and when you patronize local produce, the farmers will remain employed and possibly employ others.
This boosts your local economy significantly better than shopping at a large corporation.
When you stop shopping at Walmart, their bottom line is not effected substantially. You can make changes for your own community by shopping locally.
Buying More Local Produce Ensures an Eco-Friendly Environment
Encouraging local produce will ensure an Eco-friendly environment because they will be encouraged to continue their cultivation, which positively affects our planet.
Maintain open space and farmlands benefits our planet, and continuing to create a need for this land is important for our future.
Local Produce is Only Harvested When it is Ripe
Local foods and produce usually are harvested when they are ripe unlike the imported produce, most of them are harvested before they are ripe to preserve them until they are purchased.
Local Produce is Often Cheaper Because There is No Middleman
Local produce has less middlemen which influences the price positively, imported foods have crossed several hands and duties have been paid, all these contribute to their cost.
Local produce is generally cheaper than from larger corporations because of this, whether you knew this or not. It is often a myth that food from stores such as Walmart is cheaper!
Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
One area of the world which still consistently relies on “local produce” and shows the positive health benefits to match is surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.
Although some parts of their diet are different, the key factor I would like to address is that they generally rely on locally produced foods and not mass produced products. This ultimately results in a far healthier diet!
Combining principles of the Mediterranean diet with the general knowledge that locally produced food is healthier for you can have a substantial impact on your overall health!
The Mediterranean style diet is originally based on dietary traditions of Greece, Crete and southern Italy, where chronic diseases were low among the lowest populations of the worlds.
Life expectancy was also among the highest, despite the absence of adequate medical facilities.
After World War II, Ancel Keys of the Mayo Foundation led a study which examined the health and diets of about 13,000 middle-aged men in many countries which included: Japan, US, Greece, Crete, Netherlands, Yugoslavia, Italy and Finland.
The result showed remarkably that well fed Americans actually had higher rates of heart disease when compared to other countries in the study group.
The other countries had their diets restricted due to the deprivations of war, yet their people were far more heavily.
The men from Crete who were the poorest among the other countries in the study group enjoyed the best cardiovascular health, and it was associated with their unique food pyramid and physical labor.
I learned a great deal about this style of eating while living in Macedonia for 10 months, playing professional basketball. I do not tout this as some type of fad-diet. It is a lifestyle that legitimately helps you become a healthier person from the inside-out.
Health Benefits of Mediterranean Diet
In short, a traditional Mediterranean diet consists of a high quantity of quality vegetables, fruits, nuts and olive oil.
The Mediterranean diet is also associated with physical activity, and it has positive impacts such as:
Reduces the Risk of Stroke and Heart Disease
Reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease, as there are certain foods that are discouraged in the Mediterranean diets.
Foods such as red meat, processed foods and refined bread are all discouraged and better quality options are preferred.
It encourages the drinking of red wine in moderation, rather than hard liquor, utilizing the rejuvenating benefits of wine to bolster the body. If liquor is drank there are many unique liquors such as rakija which is made from grapes, that are far healthier than other options.
Improve Digestion and Stabilize Blood Sugar Levels
Because a Mediterranean diet is rich in fiber, it helps slow down digestion and avoid heavy swings of blood sugar, helping to protect you against Type 2 diabetes.
Reduce the Risk of Developing Weak Muscles with old Age
The nutrients that you acquire with a Mediterranean diet may have the potential of reducing senior’s risk of developing weak muscles and several signs of frailty by 70%, as the body will begin to operate more efficiently.
Reduce the Risk of Developing Heart Disease or Cancer
With a reduction in the risk of a heart disease or cancer when you adhere to a Mediterranean diet, there will be a reduction of the risk of death by around 20%.
Lower the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
It also helps to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease as speculated by researchers; as the Mediterranean diet, may improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and total blood vessel health. All these factors may be able to lower the risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
Reduce the Risk of Parkinson’s Disease
It can reduce the risk of having Parkinson’s disease by half because the diet contains high levels of antioxidants which prevents cells from going through a damaging process referred to as oxidative stress.
A Typical Mediterranean Diet
Mediterranean countries eat substantially different than Northern European countries.
The difference in climate and growing conditions allow for drastically different foods to be grown.
Due to this, the countries adapted in different ways. A typical Mediterranean diet includes a wide range of different foods including the following:
- Moderate amounts of poultry and fish, with these forms of meat generally taking over for red meat.
- Frequent consumption of eggs.
- A low or moderate amount of wine.
- Small amount of red meat weekly which is very low when compared to northern Europe.
- Fresh fruit serves as a desert often.
- A wide variety of plant foods.
- It involves a high consumption of non-refined cereals which could be in the form of nuts, beans, and cereals such as wheat, barley, brown rice and corn.
- The calorie intake which consists of fats is between 20% to 35%
- The main sources of dairy foods are fermented, namely yogurts and cheese. Yogurt is not loaded with sugar, and is an effective digestive aid.
- The main source of dietary fats is olive oil.
- The meal is usually low in saturated fat, and high in dietary fiber and monounsaturated fat
According to a report from scientists of the University of Toronto which can be found in the October issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, it was reported that consumption of more legumes will help to improve glycemic control in people living with type 2 diabetes, and lessen the risk of the development of coronary heart disease.
Personal Experience with the Mediterranean Diet
While living in Macedonia, I was treated to a whole new style of eating.
I learned to eat salads before any meal, and even learned how to effectively use cognac to digest my food better! Overall the biggest difference to me was that foods found in their style of eating were far more natural than ours, and meals almost always consisted of “real food.”
Food does out of a box from Walmart, or from a Wendy’s or McDonald’s. Food comes from natural sources, and always has.
Increasing the amounts of these healthier foods allowed me to gain a substantial amount of weight while living in Macedonia (~20lbs), while hardly adding any fat at all! Certainly, my weight training played an integral part in this, but the quality of food was just as important!
It allowed me to power through each day, working to my fullest capacity.
If I could, I would still be eating this food every single day!
There are many advantages of buying local produce, it brings us closer to nature and the nutrients available in fresh farm produce, enhances and promotes a green earth even amid the agitations of global warming.
If we could continually encourage local produce; we will promote safer, cleaner and healthier lifestyle.
Giving this type of diet a consistent effort will result in beneficial outcomes for anyone who gives it an honest effort!