While much attention is paid to the environmental benefits of organic produce, the local food movement is starting to also make real headway. No matter how your food is grown, if it’s shipped from across the U.S. or even from another country, that’s a long way for your food to travel.
Locally grown foods are fresher because they don’t have to be picked before they’re ripe for shipping, and are less likely to be subjected to different means of preserving freshness. Many fruits and vegetables must stay in refrigerated trucks, which increases the amount of energy the trucks consume.
While there are some extreme locavores out there, introducing more local food into your diet isn’t as hard as it seems. Plus, eating locally puts more emphasis on eating fresh, non-processed foods that will benefit anyone trying to lose weight. When you eat locally, you’re also supporting the local economy. Here are a few simple ways to eat local.
There’s a lot of great stuff about this time of year. One of the best, and maybe the least known, is the availability of the Pick Your Own Farm. Also called U-Pick or PYO, these farms are wonderful places to take your family. In some cities, these businesses are referred to as agri-business, basically business that occurs on a farm.
In the United States, picking your own berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries), apples, and vegetables is most common. Pumpkin patches, often with associated corn mazes, hay rides and wagon rides are common in the fall. Urban legend has it that You Pick Farms started after WWI, when labor was hard to come by and farmers were short on workers.
If you are concerned with health and what Americans are eating, you have got to check out the Food Environment Atlas. Announced by Michelle Obama, this tool can be used as part of her stand against childhood obesity. The interactive Food Environment Atlas provides data in a visual map that illustrates the environment that we have created, how we eat, and how we exercise.
I took a look at Indiana, selected different factors to explore from availability of restaurants and how much we spend on fast food to food taxes and the percentage of high schoolers who are physically active, and saw county by county how we rate and how we compare to neighboring states. (more…)
Many times when I was asked why I became a vegetarian, or pescatarian (vegetarian who eats fish), my answer was twofold. One of the first reasons was due to the treatment of animals, which in a recent film I watched were actually termed “animal cities” and that term was not meant as one of endearment. The quality of life our animals have, from cows to chickens to pigs, is horrendous. Whether being kept in pens or tight quarters where slight movements are difficult or never seeing sunlight, I could not fathom taking part in allowing this to continue so I stopped giving those stock yards and farmers my money. (more…)
Anne-Marie Nichols is a guest blogger for the DietsInReview.com special series on Healthy Summer Kids. Anne-Marie is a work-at-home professional blog wrangler and social media consultant. In real life she lives on Colorado’s Front Range with her husband and two children. Virtually you can find her at A Mama’s Rant, This Mama Cooks! On a Diet, and This Mama Cooks! Reviews, at several of the Mom Central blogs including Mom Central Food and Mom Central Goes Green, and on Twitter.
Summer’s the perfect time to inspire your family to eat more healthfully since seasonal produce is on sale and plentiful. It’s also an opportunity to get the kids involved in purchasing nutritious food. As a family, visit a farmer’s market or pick fruits and vegetables at a local farm. (LocalHarvest.org lists farmer’s markets and family farms by state or ZIP code.)
After you’ve shopped, get the kids into the kitchen to make frozen fruit popsicle treats. (more…)
Farmer’s markets are markets that allow customers to purchase locally grown, flavorful, farm-fresh, organic produce. This type of market is great because it comes straight from the ground to your hands. This type of market allows farmers to develop personal relationships with the buyers and the consumers can show their loyalty with the farmers. The setup to the market varies, but typically it takes place once or twice a week at a designated public place. Some markets even make it more of a social get-together by providing live entertainment. (more…)