Top 3 Benefits to Buying Local Foods
Here in Sampson County, we are fortunate enough to be surrounded by several farms and local businesses. According to the 2017 USDA Agriculture Census, we have 960 farms in Sampson County. Having the option to purchase locally grown food provides health and economic benefits to consumers, farmers, and the community. Here are some of the top benefits of eating locally grown food:
- Money spent on local foods is put back into the community.
When you spend money with a local farmer or grower it is typically put back into the community because it is reinvested in other local businesses and services. If we are buying local there is also a chance that our green spaces and rural areas are protected. Foods can sometimes travel thousands of miles to be put into our grocery stores, buying from our farmers can decrease our environmental footprint significantly because of the decrease in transportation and refrigeration costs.
- Fresher and better-tasting foods.
Foods are the most nutritious after they are harvested and they begin to lose nutrients as soon as they are picked. Local foods have less travel time and distance which ensures they are fresher and full of flavor. Better tasting fruits and vegetables also encourage consumers to eat more fresh produce. A diet full of fruits and vegetables has been shown to decrease the risk of chronic disease and illness.
- Local food can be safer.
Buying local can also have an impact on the safety of food. There is less chance of contamination when it skips the shipping, handling, and distributing process. Most of the time you can also ask where the food was grown and how it was grown. When we interact with our local farmers and small businesses, this not only provides peace of mind that you are making healthier choices for your family but also creates a better sense of community.
There are several efforts to support local food initiatives. One example is joining the NC 10% Campaign which encourages people to spend ten percent of their food budget on local products and tracks the number of dollars spent on local foods by NC residents and businesses. Another effort is the Visit NC Farms app which provides people with a way to find farms in several counties across NC and this will soon include Sampson County. Lastly, take some time to explore the Meat Suite website to find local meats for sale in our area.
For any questions contact our office with any questions or visit our website to see an updated list of specific fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other products available locally. If you are not sure how to prepare local foods, visit Steps to Health’s website for a variety of recipes and N.C. Cooperative Extension’s Local Food page on buying and cooking tips.
Michigan State University Extension
7 Benefits of Eating Local Foods
N.C. Cooperative Extension
Eat Local. Eat Healthy.