Eat Local, Does Your Food Travel More than You Do?

When we shop at the grocery store today, we don’t bat an eye at the sight of strawberries in the winter or perfect tomatoes from Holland. In the space of a generation, we’ve become accustomed to eating food that’s never grown roots in local soil. In fact, most produce grown in the United States travels an average of 1,500 miles before it gets sold.

Trucking, shipping and flying in food from around the country and the globe takes a toll on the environment and on public health. Take grapes, for example. Every year, nearly 270 million pounds of grapes arrive in California, most of them shipped from Chile to the Port of Los Angeles. Their 5,900 mile journey in cargo ships and trucks releases 7,000 tons of global warming pollution each year, and enough air pollution to cause dozens of asthma attacks and hundreds of missed school days in California.

The way we eat has an enormous impact on the health of the planet. By choosing to eat lower on the food chain, and focusing on local and organic produce, we can curb global warming and air pollution, avoid toxic pesticides, support local farmers and enjoy fresh, tasty food. www.nrdc.org/health/foodmiles/

Benefits of shopping at the Farmers Market
  • The fruits and vegetables are grown locally and picked when perfectly ripened. This enhances the taste, texture, and aroma of the produce.
  • Often, market prices are lower than at grocery stores.
  • Our existing system of food transportation and distribution requires enormous amounts of energy and resources. Before reaching your table, the average food item in the United States will travel 1,300 miles! In fact, only about 10% of the fossil fuel energy used in the world’s food system is used for production. The other 90% goes into packaging, transportation, and marketing of the food. All this inefficiency creates many environmental problems.
  • Shopping at the Farmers Market benefits the local farmer and strengthens your local community.
  • Since the produce is picked at the peak of the season, nutrients, and phytochemicals will be more abundant. Hippocrates said, “Let food be your medicine.” The following chart shows many of the health benefits of fresh produce. Don’t get bogged down trying to remember the names of these different phytochemicals—just eat a RAINBOW OF COLOR!

Color

Phytonutrients

Health Benefits

Food Sources

Red LycopeneAnthocyanin Prevents certain cancers.  Strengthens collagen proteins. strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon, cherries
Orange Beta-CaroteneLiminoids Protects against bronchitis, asthma, cataracts, and lung cancer.  Can decrease cholesterol levels. carrots, squash, melons
Yellow LiminoidsBeta-caroteneZeaxanthin Protects vision.  Prevents colon and breast cancers. yellow peppers, corn
Green LuteinSaponinsGlucosinolates Protects eyesight.  Heart and skin maintenance.  Prevents cancer. Lowers lipid levels. spinach, collard greens, broccoli, tomatillos
Blue Anthocyanin Prevents colon, cervical and prostate cancers. blueberries, grapes, plums
Purple Anthocyanin Prevents cancer.  Anti-inflammatory. grapes, raspberries, blackberries, eggplant
Farmers Market Fun
  • Try a new fruit or vegetable, or prepare your produce in a new way.
  • Ask the vendor his favorite way to prepare a particular type of produce.  Many have recipes to share.
  • Check if there are any special events being planned at the Farmers Market.  Many have cooking demonstrations, tastings, and fun activities for the kids.
  • Give your children each $2.00.  Let them explore the world of produce and make a new selection.  There is a much greater chance your child will try this new food since it belongs to them.  (When my daughter was 3-years old, she loved the color purple and selected a purple turnip.  To this day, she still enjoys eating raw purple turnips with ranch dip!) www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=478

The Salem community will soon be enjoying the benefits of their very own farmers market, providing families in southern New Hampshire an opportunity to purchase fresh produce, eggs and cheese and herbs. Starting Wednesday, July 21st, 2010, there will be a farmers market every Wednesday afternoon from 3-7 PM at Hedgehog Park Lowell Road Rte 38. In the fall it will move to Saturday mornings. All proceeds benefit the Salem Recreation Department. For more information about renting a space, please contact Jane Lang, 103 Cluff Crossing Rd U-10, Salem, New Hampshire 03079 or email questions to [email protected]

Salem Farmers Market at Hedgehog Park Lowell Road Rte 38

Happy, healthy and yummy!

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