Female hands holding an aubergine above table of vegetablesDo you know where your food comes from? Some products come from around the world – China, Mexico and Canada are common locations. When you purchase food from other countries you’re supporting their economy and keeping their farms going while local farms suffer. That’s why you may want to search for local food. Sustainable foods are those food products which are produced, processed, distributed and eaten in the area where you live.

Why would it matter whether you buy local food or not? There are many reasons to choose foods which are grown close to home. Primarily you’re supporting local farmers and enabling them to keep their farms going for another year.

Another reason to choose locally grown food is that there is much less cost involved. Instead of having to hire workers to plant the food, more workers to harvest the food, and companies to ship the food across country or across the world, locally grown food cuts out transportation. When you purchase foods from your own area they will be considerably cheaper because there aren’t additional transportation – truck, driver and fuel – costs added to the final cost.

Local foods are also going to be fresher than those which travel across country. When produce is shipped it is generally picked before it is ripe. If the food isn’t fully ripe when it is eaten, can it be full of vitamins and minerals? That is a question you’ll want to ask and answer for yourself.

Once the food is picked on the farm, it is then irradiated to kill bacteria while it is being shipped. It is estimated that most foods in your local grocery store have traveled at least 1,500 miles or more from the farm where the food was grown, to the processing plant and then to the grocery store. Each step in the process means more money is added to the price.

Think of how different a tomato grown in your own backyard tastes when compared to a hothouse tomato. There really is no comparison. And while you may not be able to grow a garden throughout the year to enjoy your own produce, you can choose to grow a garden while it is possible or purchase fruits and vegetables from your local farmer’s market or fruit stand.

Fruits and vegetables which are grown locally can be purchased when in season. These will generally taste much better than produce from the grocery store and may have more nutrients. You can then find local farms which sell meat or eggs. Some states also allow for the purchase of dairy products for human consumption. Others allow only for the sale of milk for consumption by animals. Check with your own state to see what is permissible.

The next time you go grocery shopping, consider where your food began. Was it grown by the family farm down the road or was it grown in another state? Obviously you can’t purchase all your food from local farmers because some food simply won’t grow in all areas. You can, however, choose to purchase as much local food and sustainable food as possible.