Eating Local: How and Why We Do It...And What My Sons Gain From It
Today is Cesar Chavez Day, a day to honor and commemorate the life of an important activist and community leader who spent his life focusing on fair rights for farmworkers, civil rights and environmental sustainability. The day is also celebrated by many as a day of service, and I often highlight simple service activities on my blog on this day. A great resource for service ideas is my Celebrating Acts of Kindness Pinboard and the Pennies of Time's Pinboard of Blogs About Service.
Inspired by the commitment Chavez had for environmental sustainability and access to healthy fruits and vegetables for all (especially for low-income families and farm workers), I decided this year to focus on how (and why) we eat local.
How We Eat Local...
1. By purchasing fresh eggs from a neighbor's chickens.
Even in urban communities, chicken raising is becoming more popular. Seeing if you can purchase eggs from someone in your community supports their chicken raising and is an affordable way to get farm fresh, free range eggs.
2. By supporting a local CSA (Abundant Harvest Organics is ours).
What does CSA stand for? Community Supporter Agriculture. A CSA makes farm-to-table vegetables and produce accessible and affordable by allowing individuals and families to "join" local farmers by committing to purchase a set amount of fruits/veggies straight from the farmers or farm-share group. Through it, our family eats a wider variety of fruits and vegetables than we normally would, and it means organic produce is affordable for my family, despite a limited budget.
I shared my Top 5 Benefits of my CSA over at Conveying Awareness.
To find out if there is a CSA near you, visit localharvest.org.
3. Through purchasing local honey.
I buy local honey from a 100% solar-powered honey farm not too far from us. The honey is certified organic and works wonders for seasonal allergies. (I've already seen this benefit with Caterpillar). It also doesn't cost anymore than most grocery store honey, and I recently learned that often honey carried at grocery stores is "blended," which means that as long as it is 51% honey, it can also be blended with high fructose corn syrup without any reference of that on the label.
4. By purchasing local dairy
Since I live in California, which produces lots of produce and dairy products, I try to purchase local milk and cheese, when possible, and prioritize local fruits and veggies when I'm supplementing my CSA box.
Find out what's locally grown, brewed, baked or crafted in your area and prioritize those items. Need helping finding local food, visit eatlocalgrown.com.
5. Through growing our own food
Confession: this one is a wish, not a reality yet. Wild Thing is really interested in gardening,
so I hope we can start growing some of our own veggies and herbs soon.
(I'm intimidated, though, so if you have gardening tips or suggestions of what foods to start with, please share them with me!)
Why We Eat Local...
1. Because the food is fresher, and fresh food just tastes better.
In fact, Caterpillar only eats tomatoes that come in our CSA basket. He doesn't like other tomatoes because the travel time and non-organic method of raising them changes their taste.
2. Because the food is healthier.
Local produce is picked at its ripest with a minimal travel time. This maximizes its nutritional value.
3. Because it reduces our ecological footprint/impact.
By minimizing the distance our food has to travel, we reduce pollution and the use of resources.
4. Because it supports fair treatment of workers.
Another reason I am proud to support Abundant Harvest Organics, my local CSA, is that I am supporting farmers who pay their workers fair wages and provide year-round work in a humane (and caring) work environment,
which is sadly not the norm in the food industry, especially with "Big Ag."
Often, individuals who work in the food industry, especially those who pick fruits and vegetables have to travel from various farms as seasons change. This is especially taxing on families as children often migrate with their parents.
5. Because it builds community.
Through purchasing local foods, I've connected with individuals in my community who sell goods that they raise and that also support the CSA. I also love that I'm building community by supporting my local economy. Win-Win.
What My Sons Get Out Of It...2 Big Benefits
1. Knowledge of where food comes from
Through buying local, my sons learn about where their food comes. They help feed the chickens that we get eggs from. They visit the honey farm and taste how honeys differ based on the plants and flowers the bees pollinate.
2. They try new foods and get more nutritional value from those foods.
Since supporting a CSA and buying local encourages us to purchase fruits and vegetables in accordance to what is in season, we don't get stuck in a "produce rut" and eat the same 2-4 fruits/veggies all the time. The boys constantly try new produce, and I know they are getting optimal nutrition from their produce. Plus, local honey really has worked wonders for my youngest son's allergies. His constant runny nose and itchy eyes are a thing of the past.
Do you have tips for eating locally? Do you celebrate Cesar Chavez Day? Please share!
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