You’ve all probably heard by now it’s best to buy local, especially when it comes to produce. Of course it’s great to support your local economy and your local farmer and decrease the burden of extra fuel use for our planet, but what does it matter to our bodies if we eat blueberries picked down the road or blueberries from halfway around the world?
The average meal travels 1500 miles before it arrives at your dinner table. Through all those miles, your food is subjected to extreme temperature conditions, varied light and the wear and tear of traveling 1500 miles– all of which can decrease the nutrient content of your fruits and vegetables. Produce planned to travel long distances is often picked before its peak harvest time and before it reaches its top nutrient capacity so it is not rotten by the time it hits the supermarket. The fruit will look ripe to the consumer, but will never have the amount of nutrients it would have had had it been able to reach its proper ripeness while still on the vine or plant.
Summer is a great time to check out your local farmer’s market or farm stand to see what’s ripe and in season. Find a family farm near you that allows you to pick your own produce and make a day out of it (you’ll be getting some exercise and a great tan too!). There is no comparison in the taste of a fresh juicy berry straight off the vine with one you would buy at the supermarket. Also be sure to look up produce cooperatives or community gardens in your area as another way to get your hands on the best produce available.
When you visit your farmer’s market, ask the vendor if they are selling local produce. Some cities do not have restrictions on farmer’s market vendors, so you could possibly be buying the same produce from hundreds of miles away that also supplies your local grocer.
I recently visited Kelder Family Farm in Kerhonkson, NY. In season and ripe for the picking were blueberries, red and black raspberries, red currants, cauliflower, basil, onions, lettuce, cabbage, kale and turnips. Also in season in July are strawberries, cucumber, cherries, kohl rabi, shallots and broad beans. I can’t wait to have fresh berries to mix into my oatmeal or yogurt in the mornings all week. Enjoy the summer harvest while you still can!