It’s no secret that fruits and vegetables are one of the best, if not THE best source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Plus, produce contains a component that you don’t find in animal foods – fiber. If there’s a dietary component that most people get too little of – it’s fiber.
Based on this, you might assume the more you eat the better – and that’s true unless you’re dousing your veggies in a heavy gravy or eating them with a sugary sauce. Fortunately, since non-starchy veggies are nutrient dense but high in water, you can eat tons of them without seeing your waistline expand. Plus, when you fill up on vegetables, you’re less likely to overeat other less healthy fare.
With all the health information coming out about plant-based diets, the desire to consume more plants is bound to grow. But, when you do eat your fruits and vegetables, where do you get them? Do you buy them at the supermarket or at a local cooperative or Farmer’s market? If you’re still shopping for produce at a grocery store, it might be time to rethink this practice. Buying locally, at a Farmer’s market or Co-op and purchasing seasonally, is better for your health, your community, the environment, and your pocketbook. What are the benefits of buying vegetables and fruits locally and in season?
Seasonal, fresh vegetables from a country farm are infinitely more flavorful. If you’ve ever bought tomatoes in the middle of winter, you know how lacking in flavor they are. When you buy foods in season, you enjoy the richness of taste that comes from being freshly pulled from the ground or plucked from the vine. Also, when you purchase seasonal produce locally, you get fruits and vegetables right after harvest when they’re the freshest and tastiest. There’s no better way to enjoy the most flavorful produce, with the exception of planting your own garden – and that’s not a bad idea either! Buying seasonal and from local farmers is the best way to enjoy the rich flavor that fresh produce can offer.
When you DON’T buy local, your produce may have traveled hundreds of miles. Even after its journey, it may have spent days in several distribution centers before making its way to you, all the while losing nutrients. After harvest, produce can occupy 5 days or up to several weeks in transit. The supermarket then stores them for up to a week before placing the items on display to be purchased. There they can set for several days under bright lights where nutrient loss is rapid. You can expect a significant loss of vitamin C and B-vitamins before they even reach you.
In contrast, farmers bring local produce to market soon after harvest and travel time is substantially shorter. If you’re eating fruits and vegetables for their vitamins and minerals, you’ll get more bang for your nutritional buck if you buy locally.