It’s the New Year, and while we’re all nursing some pretty heavy sugar hangovers from all of our lockdown Christmas baking, we may be looking to change our sugary ways and get more vitamin-dense fresh local produce in our diet. The ‘new year, new me’ fad of replacing chocolate orange segments with carrot batons is all well and good, but have you ever thought about whether where you buy your fresh produce from makes a difference to your overall health?
While Tesco deliveries are handy during a lockdown, the veg that arrives in plastic bags might not actually be fulfilling the health benefits tick list you’ve set for yourself this January. A combination of travel, chemicals, and commercial growing can mean that your celery stick isn’t as healthy as one bought just down the road from the local farm shop (yes, we mean us). But we’re not just trying to get you to ditch supermarket food; while the big boys offer food cupboard essentials which we know we can’t do without; we also know that eating fresh local produce such as fruit and vegetables pulled from the ground in your area has benefits far beyond the waistline.
So, what do we mean by local produce?
‘Local’ is a term which, in the food industry, broadly signifies anything produced within a 150-mile radius. What we mean, though, is a little more specific to your region. For us, local produce means that it comes from the fields, hedges, and soil around us here in North Pembrokeshire.
What are the main benefits of eating local produce?
- It tastes better.
It’s true – food that comes directly from the soil to your plate has not been sitting in transportation containers losing moisture, slowly degrading any valuable nutrients. This means that local produce usually tastes fresher, greener, and more, well, fruit and veg-y!
- Local produce lasts longer.
Another upside to not being transported vast distances is that our food has a much better shelf-life quality. No soggy cabbages that have sat in hot supermarkets for weeks here!
- It’s better for your body.
The more picked fruit and vegetables are away from the root, the more degradation of that produce occurs, and the fewer nutrients are available. Ripe fruit and veg contain the most nutrients, so eat food that’s freshly picked to get the most nutritional value from that plateful.
- Get back to seasonal eating.
We’ve got far too used to being able to have whatever we want whenever we want it. But that is not actually naturally very good for us. The natural cycle of complex food supply which exists directly around us has been perfectly designed to suit our immune systems. Eating in season actually supports our organic health – Mother Nature knows exactly what we need and provides it.
- Local produce, smaller carbon footprint.
We won’t spell it out, but cutting out overseas transportation, air miles, storage facilities, refrigerated vans…well, nipping up the road for your carrots and spuds is bound to be better for the planet!
- Pesticide and preservative-free.
Most small businesses selling locally grown crops aren’t having to smother their offerings in chemicals to withstand transportation or to keep them artificially fresh in readiness for a long shelf life at a store. Equally, when the soil is as lush and fertile as it is in Pembrokeshire, pesticides are also redundant, meaning that eating local produce negates harmful chemicals on food, which in turn helps with digestion and allergy complaints.
- Eat local and support local.
Supporting local businesses by eating local produce has far-reaching effects. Firstly, it empowers us as consumers as we know exactly where our food has come from – not something we can usually tell. Supporting local businesses such as The Paddock Farm Shop not only makes our local businesses thrive and boosts our immediate local economy, it also helps support other small businesses such as our friends at Lochmeyler Ice Cream, who we supply with produce to add to their delicious ice creams, or other local suppliers who stock their local cuisine at our shop.
There we have it – eating carrots grown from the farm down the road won’t just help you to see in the dark! Local food production and consumption enhances a cycle of nutritional, environmental, economic, and communal benefits that enhance the welfare and well-being of everyone.