Locally grown food may be more nutritious. Several factors determine vitamin and mineral content: the specific variety chosen, growing methods used, ripeness when harvested, processing, and time spent in transport.
At large industrial farms, the pursuit of high-yielding varieties often comes at the expense of nutritional quality. Production methods that deplete the soil health tend to yield crops with lower nutritional content. Additionally, supermarket fruits and vegetables can spend 7-14 days in transit, and the vitamin content of produce that has been picked early and forced to ripen during transport is often lower than that which ripens right on the plant. And prepared, pre-chopped produce in supermarkets loses protection against nutrient loss when the skin is removed.
Conversely, farmers who grow for local markets have many advantages. They can choose varieties based on flavor and nutrition, and improve soil health to maximize nutrient content. Because your local farmers don’t have to worry about their product traveling thousands of miles, they typically allow produce to ripen in the field and it arrives in the hands of customers within 24 hours of harvest. It’s as simple as that: locally grown foods are freshly picked and full of nourishment.
Many local farmers also raise their animals on pasture. In comparison to conventionally raised proteins, pastured meats, poultry, and eggs are nutrient dense. They are lower in total fat, and possess a more natural balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, along with higher levels of conjugated linoleic acids, all of which reduce the risk of chronic disease.
In addition, when you know where your food comes from, you can choose safe food from farmers who avoid or reduce their use of chemicals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, or genetically modified seeds in their operations. Talk to your local farmers and ask them about their growing practices.
Diets based on locally grown foods also tend to be higher in fruits and vegetables and lower in processed foods, a lifestyle choice that helps prevent obesity and chronic disease.