“Eat your vegetables, they’re good for you.” We’ve been hearing that one since we were tots in highchairs, so we know how important it is to work them (the vegetables, not the tots) into our diets. But did you know that vegetables (and fruits and other products) that are grown and produced locally nourish more than just our bodies?
Sure, local foods present a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables making it easier to incorporate them into our daily routine. But what might be even more significant is that studies are showing meal plans high in fruits and veggies – and low in processed foods – support healthy brain function, slow memory loss and, in the long run, improve cognitive health.
Beyond our bodies and brains, eating local can benefit us in many other ways, so read on!
We Are What We Eat
Fruits and vegetables are a great source of essential nutrients the body needs to perform at its highest potential. Foods that are grown and produced close to where we live have the highest probability of ensuring those nutrients make it onto our plates. In fact, when grown locally, fruits and vegetables are typically picked at their peak of ripeness and therefore retain most, if not all, of their nutritional value.
Every minute counts. Fruits and vegetables begin to lose nutrients the minute they are picked. Ultimately, foods that are sourced close to home are less likely to lose nutritional value because the travel time from the farm to the table is much shorter compared to foods shipped to a grocery store.
Bursting with Flavor
Without a doubt, local foods taste better. It’s no wonder coastal communities have the best seafood. Oftentimes, the produce at a local market has been picked within a day of purchase, giving consumers a much fresher selection. Because of the freshness, local foods are full of flavor and more delicious than fruit and vegetables that were picked too early, shipped across the country, and stored in a warehouse. The savor of local and seasonal foods is much richer, which makes eating them more pleasant.
It is best to eat fruits and vegetables when they are in season. Buy fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables to avoid “artificial ripening” with gases or a flavorless fruit or vegetable that has traveled thousands of miles. Like hidden gems, the most tasty and delicious produce can be found in local markets. And let’s be honest, we are more likely to eat our daily recommended servings of produce when it tastes good.
Trying New Things
Local producers give communities an opportunity to explore new foods. Most grocery stores only carry fruits and vegetables that are high in demand. Taking a trip to a local market offers exposure to fresh produce that may not be available in the local grocery store. Because local markets are generally small or family run, talking to someone about the variety of fruits and vegetables they offer is easy. Visiting the local farmer’s market is a great way to try new foods and learn more about local produce.
A Community Affair
While purchasing locally grown foods supports the environment and farmland where we live, it also helps to shape a community. Learning more about our local farmers and how they grow their produce establishes a sense of community. Living in a good community has a positive impact on our mental, emotional and physical well-being.
At Kemper House Worthington, we care deeply about the physical, emotional and cognitive well-being of our residents. We want nothing more than for our residents to live long, happy and healthy lives. We understand that making small dietary changes like eating meals from locally grown producers lowers the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, to name a few, can help reduce our residents’ dependency on medications, and even improve mental acuity. So, whenever possible, we source foods from our local farmer’s market. We’re grateful to our local producers for bringing fresh, delicious and nutritious meals onto our tables and into our bodies.