Top 5 Reasons to Eat Local Food

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"Food choices not only directly influence our health, but profoundly influence the health of the planet."

There are many reasons why buying local foods is the best way to go! Here are just a few:

1. Local Food Tastes Better
When you are shopping at a farmers market or picking up your weekly box of produce (from the farm or CSA), that produce was typically picked at its peak the day before. When you buy fruits and vegetables at most grocery stores, the produce is likely picked before it was ripe, and weeks before. Current estimates indicate that the typical grocery store produce has traveled over 1,500 miles!

2. Local Food Is Better For You
Fruits and vegetables begin to lose nutrients as soon as they are picked. Produce that is imported or has traveled a long distance has lost more nutrients than the local produce picked the day before. Also, if the fruit or vegetable is allowed to ripen on the plant it will gain more nutrients than if it is picked early and ripens during transport.

3. Local Food Preserves Our Farmland
When farmers are able to make a living selling their products locally they are less likely to sell their farmland for development. Currently some 3,000 acres of productive farmland is lost to development each day in this country! When you buy locally grown food, you are doing something proactive to preserve and protect our beautiful local farms.

4. Local Food is Better for the Environment
Large industrial farming negatively impacts our environment in many ways, including polluting the air and water systems, over consuming fossil fuel and water resources, and degrading soil quality. Not to mention the environmental impact of transportation. Local farmers typically use practices that protect soil, air and water resources and that promote biodiversity.

5. Local Food Is Safer
There is something unique about knowing the person who grew your food or even driving by the farm that you get your food from. Our local farmers are part of our community and they take great pride in their responsibility to the consumer. Each year over 50 million Americans get sick from eating unsafe food, and there are almost daily food recalls from the industrial food system.

Ways to Get Local Food at SAS

The Produce Box has returned for another season at SAS and will be delivering seasonal produce from local farms! You must register for this on-site service by going to http://www.theproducebox.com/ and designating which produce box you prefer. Pick-up your boxes on Wednesdays from 3:30-6:00pm at the Gazebo by the tennis courts. You must pay online my credit/debit each week; payroll deduction is not available. You can find more information at the RFC's website.

The Little Herb House: NEW!

 Beginning May 8th, the Little Herb House will be bringing fresh herbs, local jams, specialty soaps and lotions, and much more to SAS every week. They will be parked next to the Produce Box at the Gazebo by the tennis courts on Wednesdays from 3:30-6:00pm. Visit their website to place an order in advance (be sure to write "SAS delivery. No shipping charge." in the comment section when checking out!) and check out the SAS Weekly Specials in their online shop. If you forget to order in advance, don't worry! They will have a sampling of products available each week for you to purchase at the last minute (cash, debit/credit cards or checks accepted; payroll deduction is not available) and herb bundles that will pair beautifully with the foods in that week's Produce Box.

 LoMo Market: NEW! On-site Mobile Food Market

Beginning Thursday, May 9th, you’ll have an opportunity to purchase fresh NC produce, flowers, baked goods, prepared foods, eggs, and dairy, as well as fish and meat right here on campus. LoMo Market (which stands for local and mobile) will be bringing their market to campus every Thursday from 4:00-5:30pm, rain or shine. They will be located in the parking bays between the tennis courts and the soccer fields at the RFC Complex. Look for the LoMo Market truck! After selecting your delicious goodies, you will pay LoMo Market directly via cash, debit or credit (no checks or payroll deduction). To learn more about LoMo, you can visit their website.

Not at SAS and in need of local food? There are plenty of great resources to help you access local food. Click here to find Local Food in your area!

 One of my favorite recipes this time of year to take advantage of local spring produce (and local goat cheese!) is Spinach Salad with Strawberries and Goat Cheese. Give it a try after your next Produce Box pick-up or stop at LoMo Market!

Spinach Salad with Strawberries and Goat Cheese
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients
Salad:
6-8 ounces Baby spinach or any spring lettuce
1 cup sliced Strawberries
2 Tablespoons toasted and chopped Pecans or walnuts
1 ounce Goat cheese

Dressing:
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive oil
¼ cup Red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons Maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Wash and dry the baby spinach.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients. Toss dressing with the spinach until all leaves are covered, then gently mix in the strawberries.
  3. Divide equally into 4 bowls and top with toasted nuts and crumbled goat cheese.

For a printer-friendly version, click here.

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About Author

Kelly LeSage, MS, RDN, LDN, IFNCP

Nutritionist

Kelly is a Nutritionist at the HCC at SAS Institute Inc. in Cary NC. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Arizona State University and her Master of Science degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and an Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner. Her areas of expertise include functional nutrition, health and wellness education, prenatal nutrition, food allergies and intolerances and culinary nutrition. Follow @klesageRD on Twitter.

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