In a previous post I had sited the economic benefits of eating locally. And when I refer to "eating locally" I am referring to eating withing a 100 mile radius of your location. However, there are health benefits that can be gleaned as well. The benefits are not always obvious, less direct.
My sons and I visited the nearby farmers' market this past weekend. Knowing that, for Michigan, harvest time for many vegetables won't be happening for a few weeks from now. We were there to acquaint ourselves with some of the farmers as and what kinds of produce they were growing.
First of all, to be doing something outside with my 12 y/o and 16 y/o on a beautiful Saturday afternoon is priceless. Never mind the promise of going out to lunch and a trip to the feed store to get some new chicks. We we were doing something together! As for a psychological boost, I could have thrown my Prozac away forever. Somehow shopping the farmers' market was just a little more cool than shopping the local grocery store. Characters abound! Smiles on faces! It was an "experience". To top it off, a woman was giving away free kittens in the parking lot, something that caught the eye of my boys. (That will be another post!) How cool was that?
In a month or two when more and more Michigan produce will be available, freshness will what's key. There is no data to suggest that an apple from Washington state is any less nutritious than the one grown right here in Oakland County Michigan. However, because it wasn't transported here a vast distance the carbon emissions were lessened. Significantly. Thereby, less pollution for everyone to breath. Clean air is a health benefit, right? Additionally, because much of the produce will be picked less than 24 hours from point of sale trace minerals will be still be evident. Additionally, the taste will be different. Nothing compares to a Michigan strawberry picked fresh in June to ones found in the supermarket in January from California. This week market the appearance of some early Michigan strawberries. Delicious they were! The natural sweetness was intoxicating! If you could replace a naturally sweet fruit over a calorie laden, high fat confection your waistline would reward you! Without trying, you could be consuming your daily 5 of fruits and vegetables. Remember eating your 5-A-Day provides you with beneficial vitamins and minerals, added fiber and antioxidants and can help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Plus, you will LOOK great!
So make sure to visit you local farmers market this season. You will be helping a farmer, Michigan's economy and yourself in one! Think of it as a necessary routine to good health. There are farmers markets popping up everywhere. To find a local market check out Local Harvest at www.localharvest.org.