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Eating Locally Boosts More Than the Economy

by UPMC Susquehanna

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With the growth of farm-to-table restaurants and farmer’s markets, eating locally is easier than ever. You may have heard how eating locally is great for your community, but did you know it’s also great for your health?
 
When you purchase local produce, you’re supporting local families, which is good for business, the environment, and your health. Eating locally means you’ll be eating seasonally. You can count on a host of health benefits, including fresher food, richer nutrients, less processing, and fitting more fruits and veggies into your diet.
 
Why eat locally?
  • Locally-grown food is fresher, nutrient-rich and more flavorful. You’re accessing crops picked at their peak of ripeness instead of crops harvested early to be shipped and distributed to retail groceries, which are often aged by the time they reach stores.
  • Eating seasonally is healthier. Even though we wish some of our favorites were grown year-round, all produce has its season. The best time to enjoy produce is seasonally, when you can purchase the goods locally. Can’t go without blueberries in the winter months? Stock up on fresh local blueberries during their growing season and freeze them for use throughout the year.
  • Healthy staples. Fruits and vegetables are the cornerstones of farmer’s markets, making them a great way to fit more healthy produce into your diet.
  • Empowered choices. When you purchase locally, you can ask growers how the food was grown, including if any pesticides, hormones or chemical fertilizers were used. When you know how the crops were raised and harvested, you know a lot more about what you’re putting into your body.
  • Safer supply. The more steps between your table and the source, the more opportunities arise for contamination. For crops shipped around the world, food safety issues can occur during harvesting, washing, repeated shipping and distribution.
  • Better for the environment. Less shipping and transportation to distant stores means less fossil fuels, packaging and cost. Local support also helps maintain farmland and greenspace in the community.
  • Supports the local economy. When you invest in local produce, the money stays local, being reinvested into new crops and other services in your community. By supporting our neighbors, we make the entire community stronger.
 
UPMC Susquehanna is aiming to make access to local produce easier through its community garden initiatives. By partnering with area organizations and businesses, the system helped found the Red Shield Community Garden in Williamsport. Now, it is looking to continue the movement for families throughout the entire region.
 
Community gardens are an economical and sustainable way to produce fresh fruit and vegetables for families, but they are so much more than that. Community gardens also encourage physical activity, teach new skills, create public green space, strengthen social connections and revitalize vacant lots to bring the whole community together.