Benefits of Buying Local Foods
Spring is in the air, temperatures are rising, and people are coming out of isolation. One great way to enjoy the outdoors is to visit your local farmers’ market and support your local farmers who have been greatly affected by COVID-19. According to the 2017 USDA, Agriculture Census, we have 508 farms in Burke County. Having the option to purchase locally grown food provides health and economic benefits to consumers, farmers, and the community. Burke County has three Farmers Markets for you to visit depending on where you live in the county. Visit Burke County Farmers Markets for a complete schedule.
Here are three benefits to buying and eating locally grown foods:
Money spent on local foods is put back into the community
When you spend money with a local farmer or grower it is typically put back into the community because it is reinvested in other local businesses and services. Buying from local farmers can decrease our environmental footprint by decreasing transportation and refrigeration costs of shipping food across the country.
Fresher and better-tasting foods
Foods are the most nutritious right as they are harvested and they begin to lose nutrients as soon after they are picked. Local foods have less travel time which ensures they are fresher and full of flavor. Better tasting fruits and vegetables also encourage consumers to eat more fresh produce. A diet full of fruits and vegetables has been shown to decrease the risk of chronic disease and illness.
Local food can be safer
Buying local can also have an impact on the safety of food. There is less chance of contamination when food skips the shipping, handling, and distributing process.
Another way to help your local farmers is by supporting local food initiatives. One example is joining the NC 10% Campaign which encourages people to spend ten percent of their food budget on local products and tracks the number of dollars spent on local foods by NC residents and businesses.
Another effort is the NC Farms App which provides people with a way to find farms in several counties across NC. Also, take some time to explore the Meat Suite website to find local meats for sale in our area.
For any questions, please contact our office at 828-764-9480 or online. If you’re not sure how to prepare local foods, visit the Steps to Health’s website for recipes and N.C. Cooperative Extension’s Local Food page for buying and cooking tips.
This article is a collaboration between Virginia C. Lopez and Meghan Baker, Steps to Health Nutrition Educators. It is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition.