Eating local food is becoming increasingly popular, with the number of farmers’ markets nationwide topping 7,000, according to the USDA. The Union of Concerned Scientists claims that eating local foods is beneficial to both our communities’ economies and to our health, which explains the increase in demand for food grown closer to home. A study conducted in Michigan found that if $100 was spent at a locally owned business, $73 stayed in the local economy, while if $100 was spent at a non-locally owned business, only $43 stayed in the local economy, so the economic benefits of shopping local are quite significant.
Something to keep in mind is that eating local also inherently means eating seasonal foods, since different regions can grow a variety of foods, depending on the time of year.
Buying what’s already being grown in your area cuts down on unnecessary fuel required to ship foods long distances, while also ensuring your food will be fresher because fewer days pass between the picking and purchasing of produce. This is noteworthy, since most produce is picked up to a week before reaching supermarket shelves and travels 1,500 miles on average to get to those stores, according to Local Harvest, an organization that maintains a nationwide directory of food resources.
Here at Earth911, I decided to see how difficult it would be to make a meal with foods grown near our home office in the Phoenix-metro area. Follow along in the process as I learned what’s local, figured out what was in season, navigated my local farmers’ market and, finally, adapted two recipes for one delicious, locally-sourced and seasonal meal.