While everyone has their own reasons for buying locally grown seasonal foods, reducing their carbon footprint could be reason enough. The peaches, nectarines, berries and grapes we find in the supermarket in April might come from as far away as Chile –that’s thousands of food miles.

The benefits of eating seasonally and locally are not limited to reducing the use of fossil fuel in the food chain though.

While eating seasonally and locally can be a way of life that revolutionizes how you eat, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Grow some of your own fruits and vegetables (even if it’s just a few tomatoes), shop at local farmer’s markets (use the RealTime Farms market locator), buy into a CSA, or even continue shopping at your local supermarkets (ask a store manager, many supermarkets carry local produce, but don’t always label it “local”). Even if you do buy out of season sometimes, simply eating seasonally and locally when you are able to will improve the quality of the food you eat and reduce your carbon footprint.

Okay, now I feel as though I’m preaching to the choir. If you’re a realfoodmom reader, you are certainly aware of all the reasons for eating  minimally processed, local and organic foods. Nevertheless, when you’re tempted to buy strawberries in March, remember all the reasons why you wait for them to be locally available:

  1. Local food tastes better. Shipped produce is almost always picked before it is ripe.
  2. Local food is more nutritious. Once harvested, produce quickly loses nutrients. Since local produce is sold right after it’s picked, it retains more nutrients.
  3. Local food supports local families. The wholesale prices that farmers get for their products are low – often near the cost of production. Local farmers who sell direct to consumers cut out the middleman and get full retail price for their food – which helps farm families stay on their land.
  4. Local food builds community. Knowing farmers gives you insight into the seasons, the land, and your food. In many cases, it gives you access to a place where your children and grandchildren can go to learn about nature and agriculture.
  5. Local food is an investment in the future. By supporting local farmers today, you are helping to ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow. When farmers get paid more for their products by marketing locally, they’re less likely to sell farmland for development. When you buy locally grown food, you’re doing something proactive to improve the way foods are produced.

I try to stock up on all our favorites throughout the growing season. Here, that’s June through September. Freezing produce is so incredibly simple. Of course some fruits and vegetables are better suited to canning. Tomatoes for instance; you can’t freeze tomatoes. Well, you can, but you wont be happy with the result. Simple, step-by-step instructions make canning almost as simple as freezing.

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