Buying local, whether from a nearby farmer’s market or in your regular grocery store, has a laundry list of benefits; not only for your community, farmers, and environment, but for your own physical health. This practice is not always accessible for everyone in every area, but I have a few tips to find local food wherever you are!

Let’s start with the benefits:

  • Flavor: Locally grown food means the produce will be picked at the peak of ripeness, instead of being harvested too early to account for shipping time to big box stores with non local foods. It increases that satisfaction factor in foods that could be holding someone back from liking a fruit or vegetable or not. The flavors truly do improve.

  • Nutrients: Similarly to the above flavor explanation, these foods being picked at the correct time and getting to our plates faster will keep the amount of nutrients available in these foods as high as possible. The longer the wait time, the more likely nutrients will have decreased.

  • Seasonal needs: Eating local is ubiquitous with eating seasonally. As gone over in a previous blog post on eating seasonally, this supports your immune system significantly. It is one of the most natural and traditional ways to eat if you think about it; we eat what is available to us in the climate we live in. And as the seasons change, we are offered new options, which promotes increasing variety in our diets over time. This promotes longevity, as well as feeding a healthy gut microbiome.

  • Variety: As mentioned above, eating local will only promote us to learn about and try new foods we may not have ever noticed if we just go to the grocery store and stick to our usual produce items. Besides helping our gut health, this can decrease any boredom we might be experiencing around food and promote creativity in the kitchen over time.

Now, how to find it:

  • Farmer’s markets: The Brighton Farmer’s Market and Rochester Public Market are two of my favorites around Rochester, but there are so many more.
  • CSAs: Many local farms will offer CSA options, or community supported agriculture, where you can essentially become a supporting member of their farm and get weekly or biweekly produce at a pick up location or sent to your doorstep. It is also often cheaper than getting the same amount of produce at the grocery store, as they are utilizing what they have and creating less waste on their farm.

  • Websites: Local Harvest online is a great site to search for farms, farmer’s markets, grocery stores, etc. in your area.

  • Your local grocery store: This time of year in NY, we will start to see more local options come up at the front of the produce areas, especially in Wegmans mentioning farms by name and the area they are in.

It is never an all or nothing mentality when it comes to local, organic, eating “well”, etc. It is about opening up our minds to small changes for sustainability and longevity in our health, when accessible.