Why Eat Local?
Take a moment to think about some of the foods you’ve eaten today. How far did you have to travel to pick up those foods? And how far did those foods have to travel to meet you?
If you have ever eaten strawberries in December, French cheese, or a pineapple, you know that grocery stores stock almost all foods year round to keep us happy. Choosing local foods means these foods did not have to travel to get to us, thus reducing our impact on the environment.
Eating local foods also means better tasting food because, if food doesn’t have to travel so far to get to you, it is much fresher. Produce can be picked closer to its full ripeness, resulting in tastier produce that retains more nutrients than when it spends time sitting in shipping containers.
Remember that ‘local’ doesn’t just apply to produce – meat, fish, seafood, and grocery items can also come from local sources, so take advantage of all of the great local foods available.
Eating in Season
The easiest way to increase your intake of local foods is to eat foods in season. Not only does it make sense environmentally and economically, eating in season can introduce variety and excitement into your diet. Don’t berries always taste sweeter in August, apples crisper in September, and squash more succulent in October?
There are great recipes that feature local foods as key ingredients, but even your favourites can be adapted to use foods that are in season. Why not challenge yourself to eat more local foods – it can be a lot of fun to try to use mainly local ingredients or all local ingredients, especially as the summer produce comes into full gear.
Finding Local Foods
Farmers’ markets are your best source for local food, and certainly the most fun. Not only do these markets provide the largest selection of local products, they also give you the opportunity to connect with the producers to learn more about how and where the food is grown. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) food box programs are another great way to support local farmers – you can find out more about these programs at Farm Folk City Folk. When buying food in your local grocery store, check to make sure that the products that you buy are locally grown whenever possible. With a little flexibility, it can be easy to fill your cart with primarily local products.
And if you really want to go local, you can start your own vegetable or herb garden, or even pick blackberries from a roadside bush. Local foods don’t need to be fancy or expensive, and every little bit counts.
In BC, we are treated to a huge variety of local produce and all the farmers’ markets are now open, so do take advantage of it – there has never been a better time to go local! More information can be found at BC Farmers’ Market and Get Local BC, including market locations, foods in season and recipe ideas.
In the month of June, many fruits and vegetables are in season, including asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, cherries, spinach, lettuce, salad greens, thyme, chives, and cilantro. We will be putting some seasonal recipes on our healthy recipes page, starting with a Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble.
This article was written with the help of 3rd Year UBC Dietetics students Hana Tahaei and Lauren Schock.