This holiday season families will gather from far and wide to prepare food together, pass down recipes and indulge their taste buds. Using meals to foster a sense of community and togetherness is why food has always been a big part of celebrating the holidays, this year you can eat to your heart’s content and give something back to the community — by eating locally. Putting money into your community is just one of the many reasons we should all eat local for the holidays, below is a list of some of the things eating locally can do.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
While the environmental cost of our food isn’t something talked about often it’s a large aspect of why buying local is so important. Eating local is better for the environment since local food travels a much shorter distance, greatly reducing transport pollution and your energy consumption while allowing you to eat food at the peak of freshness. Local food is also less likely to come in contact with contaminants on its way to your table.
Support Local Economy
Americans spend $2.4 billion dollars on thanksgiving dinner, imagine the difference that could be made if even a fraction of that money went into your community. Doing business in your town supports local farmers and small businesses who need all the help they can get, supporting local business helps create jobs in your town and improves the local economy. When you give your money to local businesses that money gets reinvested back in your town, while corporate businesses very rarely invest locally. Eating what’s local and in season is a more sustainable method of agriculture and seasonal foods cost less. Many local businesses craft unique hand-made holiday wreaths that make perfect gifts, when eating locally don’t forget to consider also gifting locally.
Improve Your Health
Fresh food is healthier and nourishing to our bodies, produce starts to lose nutrients when it’s picked — getting the food to your table sooner means a more nutritious meal. While the health benefits of eating fresh are obvious eating local has hidden benefits like reducing allergies, since local food is grown in the same soil that surrounds you and is pollinated by local bees it can boost your immune system and provide protection against allergens. Buying face-to-face from the farmer’s market allows you to ask questions about your food and make sure that it was grown safely and organically. Skipping the prepackaged and frozen foods cuts out a lot of unhealthy additives in your diet.
When town squares were replaced with supermarkets and malls we started to disconnect from the importance of community, farmer’s markets allow us to reconnect with members of our community — a practice lost in sprawling cities around the world. Farmers markets create a venue to chat with our neighbors, discuss issues in our communities and become more in touch with the everyday life in our area. Food is a source of comfort to us and has always been something shared, gathering over a meal is a long standing tradition that serves to bring people together. Food is not just about filling our bodies, it’s a cultural and social experience.
Discover New Venues
Finding new restaurants to dine at with family and friends is an adventure all its own. Discovering new places to eat with loved ones provides an opportunity to create fun new memories during the holidays, you may even start a new tradition. Eating at locally sourced sustainable venues is an excellent way to begin practicing healthy habits and encourage your family to do the same.
When you gather to break bread with your loved ones this year practice mindful eating and reap the benefits; healthy fresh food that supports local businesses and the local economy while nourishing your family.