A Loca-What? Why You Should Ditch the Grocery Store and Eat Local Foods

by Naomi Lawrence ‘17

Every Sunday year-round, one can drive by the intersection of Route 108 and Prince Phillip Dr. in Olney, and see dozens of white tents with hundreds of people milling around under a beating sun. This, ladies and gentlemen, is Olney’s best expression of the locavore movement.

A “locavore” is a person who chooses to eat locally grown and produced food. Usually, this refers to food grown within 400 miles from where it’s sold, taking less than one day to transport. There are countless benefits to this up-and-coming “trend.”

One of my favorite benefits is the feeling of community when people come together at local markets. When people go to supermarkets, they usually go in, get what they need, pay, and leave. Local markets, however, are more of a group effort to organize and support, which brings the community together. Take the Olney Farmers and Artists Market. My experience has been amazing. I was able to meet great people who live nearby, and I love that I get to interact with the people who grew the food I eat.

But the locavore movement is more than a social gathering. A major reason of popularity is that locally grown foods are scientifically proven to have a better nutritional value than food that is packaged and shipped, according to a North Carolina State University study. Packaged food is laced with chemicals to help preserve it for the long trip. This sounds nice, but in reality, the chemicals caused the food to lose freshness, which in turn causes a loss of nutrients. Now, I don’t know about you, but I like my food to have its full nutritional value, not half of it just because it had to travel far.

The decreased travel time of locally grown food also helps the environment. So much of the earth’s pollution is caused by the fuel and greenhouse gases that are produced by transporting food over long distances. Not having to transport food from thousands of miles would likely decrease pollution, and who does not want that?

Another amazing benefit of eating locally (that many don’t realize) is its effect on the local economy. By choosing to eat only locally grown food, one is therefore supporting the employment of local farmers rather than farmers on the other side of the country. This local circulation of money allows for a stimulation of the local economy, which provides jobs for those farmers.

It’s time to bid frozen foods in grocery stores goodbye and broaden your horizons. I challenge you to implement local eating into your diet. It may not be 100-percent perfect at first, but any food that you can buy locally will not only help you, but it will also better your community.

 

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