Healthy Beginnings

Buy Local, Eat Local this Summer

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Eat local. It’s a phrase we hear more and more these days, especially with farmers market season just around the corner. So many people are passionate about local food that a new word has cropped up… locavore. Local usually refers to anything grown or produced within 100 miles, but it’s not a hard-fast rule, depending on the product and where you live. The popularity of the locavore movement can be seen in the numbers. The local food industry generated $11.7 billion in sales in 2014, and is estimated to climb to $20.2 billion by 2019, according to market research studies.

So why jump on board the “eat local” train? The reasons are many!

Local produce tastes better. Local produce ripens in the field rather than in a truck or warehouse, and it’s picked at peak ripeness. Everyone pretty much agrees that no tomato comes close to a vine-ripened one when it comes to flavor. Produce from local farms is often harvested the same day or within 24 hours of going to market. It doesn’t get much fresher than that.

Local meats and dairy products taste better. Most small, local farms use sustainable practices, and livestock and poultry are raised on different diets than their mass-produced counterparts. This usually means better flavor and less antibiotics and hormones in your food. If you’ve never eaten fresh, local eggs, do so quickly! The taste and appearance will end any doubt about their superiority. It’s a flavor that can’t be bought at your local grocery store.

Local food is better for your health. The shorter the time between the farm and your table, the more nutrients remain in the food. Food imported from far away is older and has traveled on trucks or planes, and sat in warehouses before it gets to you. It was most likely picked a week or more before getting to the supermarket shelves.

Local food supports local families. Buying directly from local farmers cuts out the middleman, meaning the farmer keeps the earnings. And the farmer hires workers to help grow, harvest and sell his product. That translates to more jobs and more money staying in your community.

Local food is seasonal and has more variety. Buying local food keeps us in touch with the seasons, and seasonal eating is healthier eating. Your body knows that it needs leafy greens in the spring, water-heavy foods like melons and tomatoes in the summer, and hearty foods like potatoes and winter squash to keep you fueled in the winter. Local farms grow varieties you won’t find in grocery stores, and local, seasonal food is often cheaper than super market prices.

Local foods support responsible land development. When you buy local foods, you support local farmers, help them stay in business, and possibly prevent a sale to a developer. Your purchases help maintain our open spaces and rural landscapes. The farm environment is a patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, ponds and buildings that provide habitat for wildlife in our communities.

Local foods are good for local businesses. Today’s millennials, who account for 24 percent of the U.S. population, flock to locally-grown and locally-made products. They are on the forefront of the locavore movement, and they eat and shop at restaurants and retailers that buy from local farms. These “locavore” restaurants attract tourists and other businesses and add a unique flavor to Nevada’s cities and towns.

As we head into farmers market season, it’s a good time to meet your local farmers and ranchers and learn about the abundance of food that is grown right here in Nevada. You’ll learn what’s in season, and you’ll discover new foods you can’t find at the grocery store. If you want to know more about local farms and ranches, restaurants that support them, visit www.NevadaGrown.com.