This week we are throwing you another reason to eat local. That’s correct; there are more benefits to explore when it comes to buying local food. This one is easy: Local food is fresher. Not to point out the obvious, but let’s face it, of COURSE local produce is going to be fresher. It might not be quite as obvious as to what it means to have fresher food, though. Perhaps we should elaborate.
Fresh is good. Fresh is beautiful. Fresh tastes better. Sure, if you had the option to buy fresher produce, you would. Well, you do have it, and that option is to purchase local. When it comes to produce you find at the grocery store, it comes from all over the place. You don’t have to be a horticulturist to realize that coconuts don’t grow in abundance in the Arizona Sonora Desert (duh!). Yet, we find pallets of them, and many other foreign fruits and veggies in our stores. Produce that doesn’t grow nearby isn’t fresh. Haven’t you ever wondered why it is so difficult to actually find a fresh coconut, pineapple, or pear? Heck, most things are pretty difficult to find fresh in the grocery stores. That’s because most of the produce that you find sitting there were actually harvested weeks ago. When it comes to imported produce, it is even older yet, as it has to travel even further and pass inspection. That process often takes much more time (and that’s if it actually gets inspected). So, what about the produce found at your local farmers’ market? That is usually harvested within the last 24 hours, often the same morning.
People don’t cook a dinner that they plan to eat 3 weeks later, is just isn’t as good (that’s assuming it’s still edible). So why would anyone want to wait that long to eat produce that they picked either? It’s not just produce, the same goes for meats, eggs, and dairy as well. However, when speaking about animal products, you can’t just leave them sitting in a warehouse or storage room for 2 weeks. They need be preserved, and there are a number of methods to do that, all of which make the food taste not as good, and many of them are either bad for you or just . . . gross. Such is the case with the now infamous “pink slime,” or as the manufactures prefer “lean finely textured beef” (LFTB), which is treated with ammonia to prevent bacteria such as E. coli or salmonella from contaminating the meat. If you are of the belief that proven toxic chemicals should not be included in your diet in any way, you might want to avoid LFTB.
Food that is grown within a closer proximity to where it is ultimately consumed is inherently going to be fresher by nature. The statement says it all: Local food is fresher. For example, if the food was just harvested outside of town, it doesn’t have to travel very far to end up on your plate. Therefore it does not take as long to get to its destination, either. That is a simple way to put it. We all know that when there is less distance to travel, there is less time spent travelling (as a general rule of thumb), but what about the specialty foods that do come from far away? Small farmers aren’t going to be shipping foods across the country, so in order for that to happen, it takes a much larger farm to have the quantities and production capacity to do so. When larger farms come into the equation, so do stricter regulations, resulting in even more holdups and delays. When this happens, the farmers are forced to harvest even earlier in order to prevent spoilage. That seems a little ironic, when you think about it, that produce is harvested sooner, before it’s fully ripened, in order to preservefreshness? Fresh food is called freshbecause it was recently made or harvested, and the word preserve should be nowhere in the same sentence.
We all like fresh food, as fresher food looks, smells, tastes, and even feels better. Food that is mass-commercialized on a large-scale is inherently less fresh by the very mechanisms designed to commercialize it to begin with. If you want your food to be as fresh as possible, you can’t get much fresher than eating something local. Lucky for you, it’s not far from here either.