These days it seems like most of our food is wrapped in plastic and sourced from distant countries. It should be logical: a bell pepper sourced from Mexico isn’t the freshest choice and probably used lots of environmental resources to get onto the stand in your local store. Yes, it’s convenient, but convenience shouldn’t replace quality or harm to the planet. It’s important to know where your food is coming from so that you are able to nourish yourself without perpetuating the damage that comes with the transportation of food. As a proponent of eating locally, I am frequently challenged with the argument of price. I have found that it is commonly believed that local food is more expensive than imported food. I understand that many people might not have access to local food depending on where they live, but as a frequent farmers’ market visitor I can say that with a little effort, eating locally is no more expensive than shopping at a chain grocery store.

Knowing where your food comes from not only improves your own life but also works to preserve the environment, build community, and boost local economies.

Here are some of the benefits that come along with shopping and eating locally:

1. Eating seasonally- Importing out-of-season foods is not only harmful to the environment, but also decreases nutritional value. By eating in-season foods, you can be assured that you are consuming the freshest-possible crops and that you are not putting stress on the environment.

2. Taste- Local foods just flat-out taste better. There’s something about biting into a tomato that was picked less than 24 hours before you bought that can’t be replaced by anything else.

3. Building local economies- Shopping locally keeps money in the hands of your community and out of the pockets of big corporations.

4. Safer food- Eating locally means that there were very few steps taken between harvest and table. Therefore, there is a smaller risk of contamination or preservative use.

5. Forging relationships with your farmer- In today’s world of technology and social media, it’s even more pertinent to forge and maintain real human connections. Talking to growers at the farmers’ market builds community and also provides a clear background on where your food came from and how it was grown.

The list goes on but it is clear that supporting local food makes real environmental, social, and economic change. Becoming aware of where your food comes from and how it was grown promotes a sense of interconnectedness. Try going local by finding a farmer’s market near you!