Local and Seasonal Eating 101

As a dietitian, I got into sustainability via my food choices. As I went through nutrition school, I began to really ponder my food philosophy. What did I believe about my food? How did I want to interact with the food system? How did I want to participate in the greater picture - in the global picture?

I have always felt a deep love for the earth and once I saw the correlation between my food choices and their environmental impact- I was all in.

I STARTED my instagram out of this love. A love for local and seasonal foods. Supporting our local food culture. Supporting local farmers and growers. Supporting those who are working with the earth- not taking from it.

I realized there were many environmental and personal benefits to eating locally and seasonally!

The local food movement is an alternative to the global food model where food travels long distances to reach our supermarket shelves. “Food Miles” have a big environmental impact. Transporting food contributes to greenhouse gas emission and therefore, global warming/climate change.

Local food also promotes a relationship between the consumer and the producer. Very little gives me greater happiness than Saturday morning farmer’s markets! Being able to speak directly to the people who produce your food is a priceless joy that relatively few take the time to invest in. 

When you buy local meats, veggies, dairy etc, you know that you are doing what you can to further small business, promote environmental health, support animal welfare, and of course, invest in the health of your family. 

Benefits of eating locally

  1. Reduced food miles and therefore, reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

  2. When buying locally, you by default, eat in season. This means your food is going to have maximum flavor and nutritional value!

  3. You are supporting local small business and your local economy!

  4. You help maintain farmland and green space in your area and therefore, you contribute to regenerative agriculture!

  5. You get to try new and fun produce specific to your area! I’m telling you- nothing is more culinarily inspiring than a stroll at the market!

  6. As you buy more local foods, you will find you naturally buy less industrialized and processed foods- which is a win for you and the environment!

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If you’re new to all of this, I know it can seem quite overwhelming! LIKE WHERE DO I EVEN START?! So here are my tips for local eating! 

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  1. Know what is in season in your region. This is a great resource for that. This is especially helpful to keep in mind when you are shopping at a grocery store! (If you are shopping at the farmer’s market, it is by default going to be seasonal.) If something is in season in your area, that probably means that it had to travel less distance to get to your grocery store shelves! For example, if it is summer in the Carolinas, opt for the summer squash vs the butternut squash! When a product is not in season, it will either be grown in a hot house or shipped in from some place in the world that it is in season. The taste and quality difference between something that is vine ripened and something that is shelf ripened is undeniable.

  2. Go to the farmer’s market! Do a quick google search (use this site!) for farmers markets in your area- typically they are on Saturday mornings.

  3. Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). These programs are designed to connect local farmers/growers with the consumers. Typically, you will purchase “a subscription” for the season or year. Local farmers will put together a basket of produce that varies based on availability and season. (How fun is that?!) Read more about them here.

  4. Find your local co-op! Co-ops are basically locally run grocery stores. They are a great place to find local and organic foods at a less costly price. See what options are in your area at localharvest.org.

  5. Plant a garden. If this sounds like too much work, simply growing your own herbs on a window is not only as LOCAL AS IT GETS, it also saves you money!

  6. Stop at that random farm stand on the side of the road.

  7. Go to U-Picks! Berries and peaches are a very popular food group for this type of thing. It’s also a fun experience for kiddos! 

  8. Support farm to table restaurants! Visit restaurants that practice farm to table by supporting and purchasing from local growers and famers.

  9. Invest in organic and fair trade when possible. Probably not everything you might need can be bought locally. Such as coffee, chocolate, sugar, etc. When this is the case, I encourage buying organic and fair trade when possible  and within your budget! Fair trade will help promote communities through agricultural development and ensure a fair wage for their labor and product.


I hope this was helpful for you all!

Let me know in the comments below! And share my graphic with your friends- I’d much appreciate it! <3

xo,

meg

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