Despite the ever-increasing globalization of our economies, the last few years have seen a resurgence of the local movement. We see it in the business and cultural spheres… but especially in the food sector. Why? It turns out that the benefits of eating local are not limited to supporting the regional economy, but have many other environmental and social implications.
Here are 3 reasons to eat local that will get you on board with the movement.
1. Eat local for climate action
It’s no surprise that the food industry is putting a strain on the planet today. Feeding an ever-growing population puts enormous pressure on our ecosystems throughout the supply chain. Eating locally is a concrete action to limit the impact of our plate on the environment.
First of all, food produced closer to where it is consumed reduces greenhouse gas emissions and the energy consumed during transportation, storage and preservation. However, to be truly ecological, local food must favor seasonal products made from species native to the region. These support local biodiversity and limit the carbon footprint of our plate by avoiding the importation of exotic products.
However, we must be careful, because local production is not always the most ecological! Growing tomatoes in heated greenhouses during the winter can be much more energy consuming than importing tomatoes from Mexico, where the weather conditions are naturally optimal for their production (1). Finally, buying directly from a local farmer allows to limit packaging, since the number of intermediaries is reduced and the need for conservation is therefore less important (2).
2. Eat local to encourage homegrown expertise
To continue the development and sharing of our local expertise, it is important to encourage the very individuals who perpetuate it. The situation is not always easy for our agricultural producers, and eating local food allows us to support their activities in a concrete way. Favouring local products means putting the development of our local market ahead of export products, which also contributes to preserving food independence. This is the kind of action that goes hand in hand with increasing the resilience of our societies in case of crisis.
3. Eat local for taste and health
You must have noticed that tomatoes freshly picked from your garden are much tastier than those found in grocery stores. The reason is that your famous tomatoes have been harvested after they are ripe and have had time to absorb all the nutrients they need to be tasty. This is not the case for the majority of tomatoes or vegetables found in supermarkets. Since they often travel long distances, many of them will be harvested before they mature, in order to give them time to ripen during transportation. These products will not have had time to absorb the elements responsible for their flavor, and will therefore have a duller taste.
In addition, this will also reduce the nutritional quality of the food, as it will be poorer in nutrients. Long transportation and storage times also reduce the health benefits of food, as products loses nutrients over time. For example, fresh spinach can lose more than half of its nutritional quality after only 1 week.