Eat Healthy, Eat Fresh, Eat Local

There’s something so delicious about locally grown food!  It tastes better and is more fresh than food shipped from afar. Local farmers offer varieties of produce that are bred for taste and freshness rather than for shipping and long shelf life.

I spent my last vacation in Tuscany, Italy where enjoying food is a huge part of the dazzling Italian culture. If you have ever traveled to a small town in Europe, you probably know exactly what I’m referring to.

The majority of food in Italy is prepared with local produce. If what they decide to cook with does not grow in their backyards, they purchase it from local farmers markets, which makes a huge impact on their diet. Their meals are packed with nutrients providing our bodies with great health benefits from the produce being so fresh!

When food is locally grown, it tends to reach our plates shortly after being harvested.  Once plated, it’s clear by eye and taste that these foods are fresh and rich in nutrients, unlike produce grown in faraway places.  Food that is shipped has to travel across oceans or countries for long periods of time before arriving to the local grocer. Such foods are not nearly as fresh or nutritious as those that are locally grown and harvested (when ripe, of course!).

In addition, when eating local, we eat what is in season. If you find cherries in your supermarket year round, you should wonder where they came from.  Remember, cherries do not grow every month of the year in every location!  When we eat local, we eat the way nature intended.  Seasonal produce is higher in nutrients, antioxidants and truly tastes delicious!

Another important aspect is periodicity, or how often you shop for your produce.  If you are buying your produce once every couple of weeks, your fruits and vegetables are not really fresh. However, if you shop every two days or even weekly, the freshness and quality of your food will be much higher allowing limited time for anything to spoil. It may be more work, but it is worth it for your health!

While traveling in Tuscany, I explored the local fresh market every day in search of foods that I could enjoy back home.  Some of these includes delicious olive oils, balsamic vinegar and dried tomatoes.  It was a joy to see how Italians shop and pick out their groceries. Experiencing this first hand, I realized the endless health benefits and the distinct difference in fresh taste. Upon my arrival back home, I decided that I wanted to feel some of that here!  I began to grow spices on my balcony to cook with and enjoy. Yes, it is possible, and they smell great!

Next shopping day, take advantage of your local farmers market. Besides the health benefits, it is a great opportunity to support your community and live well!

Not in the mood to cook tonight? Dine out in one of Healthy Magazine’s healthy dining out suggestions!  Healthy Magazine presents our new directory, loaded with local restaurants and grocers who’ve taken the time to cater to those readers looking to form healthier dietary habits. We hope you enjoy them, we sure did, and look forward to expanding so we can continue better to connect our readers with healthy lifestyle options in their communities.