If you’ve ever grown your own food before, you know how satisfying it is to grow, pick, prepare, and eat the fruits of your labor. Eating local is not as hard as it sounds. Start by finding your local farmer’s market, farm stand, CSA (community-supported agriculture), or grow your own garden. Enjoy the fresh, mouth-watering produce, and feel good knowing that it came from your community.

Here are just a few reasons food is better when it originates near your home.

1. It tastes better. 

Before summer ends, find a pick-your-own berry farm, or go searching for wild berry bushes. There's no comparison between fresh, juicy berries and the imported ones at your supermarket. Local produce at farmer’s markets, farm stands, or your garden will be crisp, sweet, flavorful, colorful and so fresh you can taste it.

2. It’s packed with nutrients. 

Produce loses its nutrients when it's exposed to heat, light and time. The average distance produce travels to your plate is 1,500 miles — that’s a whole lot of time for nutrients to deplete. Instead, grab local produce at a farmers' market that may have been picked that morning.

3. It supports local farms. 

Small farms are slowly disappearing. Large farms make up much of the produce available in the grocery store. Buying local produce supports these family-owned, community farms that are dedicated to sustainable, healthy growing practices.

4. You can feel safe about your food. 

Although the produce at the farmer’s market has not been triple-washed or preserved, I feel much safer about eating it. I can ask the farmer if they use pesticides, sustainable growing practices, or grow organic produce. If I’m buying animal products, I make sure to ask if the animals are grass-fed or pasture-raised, if they use GMO-feed or not, if they use hormones, antibiotics, or other synthetic chemicals no one should eat.

5. It supports diversity. 

If you ever want to see the colors of the rainbow, walk around your farmer’s market. The supermarket tricks us into believing tomatoes are only red, and carrots are only orange. The farmer’s market is stock-full of heirloom products. Preserve the biodiversity available, and fill your body with produce you can’t find in the grocery store.

6. It builds community. 

Make food shopping a social experience. Every Saturday morning, you'll find me exploring my local farmer’s market, talking to passionate vendors, and checking out the eye-catching produce. Supporting your local farmers puts money back into the community, and you'll begin to build relationships with the farmers. Let them know that you like their organic chicken, but you would love it if it were pasture-raised.

7. It supports a clean Earth. 

Like I mentioned, that bag of spinach may have traveled over 1,500 miles to reach your salad bowl. Instead of wasting all that fuel, find a farm 50 miles or less from your home. Ask the farmers about their sustainable methods — wildlife preservation, water management, and more.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

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