The Benefits of Eating Locally: Fostering Freshness, Seasonality, and Connection
by Valerie Spohr, CNP, nutrinimble
Eating locally offers numerous advantages that extend beyond mere taste satisfaction. It nurtures a stronger bond with our food sources, supports sustainable practices, and enhances our overall well-being. While supporting local produce requires a bit more effort, the benefits are well worth it.
The Health Benefits of Local Foods:
Locally sourced food is harvested at its peak ripeness, ensuring optimal freshness and nutrient content. By consuming locally grown produce, we provide our bodies with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that may deteriorate during long-distance transportation. This means that seasonal eating allows us to relish a diverse range of flavors and take advantage of the unique nutrient profiles offered by fruits and vegetables during specific times of the year. Moreover, the eco-friendly methods employed by local farmers minimize the use of synthetic chemicals, resulting in healthier food choices.
When it comes to seasonal allergies, consuming a variety of fresh, locally sourced foods can help support our immune system and overall health. The higher nutrient levels in seasonal produce may help strengthen our bodies' natural defenses and potentially reduce the severity of allergic reactions. Additionally, the anti-inflammatory properties found in some seasonal foods, such as berries, leafy greens, and citrus fruits, may help alleviate allergy symptoms by reducing inflammation in the body.
Opting for local food supports sustainable agricultural practices that prioritize environmental well-being. Local farmers often employ organic farming techniques, crop rotation, and minimal pesticide usage, thereby contributing to soil health preservation, water resource conservation, and biodiversity protection. By reducing the carbon footprint associated with long-distance transportation, eating locally helps alleviate environmental challenges.
Fostering Community and Connection:
The local food movement fosters a sense of community and connection. By purchasing directly from local farmers, frequenting farmers' markets, or participating in community-supported agriculture programs, we establish meaningful relationships and develop a deeper appreciation for the labor behind the food we enjoy. This direct connection promotes food security, knowledge sharing, and a support system that transcends the boundaries of a plate.
Practical Tips for Eating Locally:
Have the right resources: Consider obtaining a fruit and vegetable calendar or utilizing online platforms to stay informed about the seasonal availability of produce. This enables effective planning of your grocery lists and informed decisions when purchasing local food.
Explore farmers' markets: Farmers' markets offer a wide variety of local foods, including fruits, vegetables, fish, meats, cheeses, honey, and baked goods. Compare prices and find great deals while supporting local producers.
Consider a farmers' basket or CSA program: Joining a farmers' basket or community-supported agriculture program provides access to fresh, seasonal, and locally grown products. Some programs even offer convenient weekly deliveries.
Seek out roadside farm stores and connect through social media: Roadside farm stores and social media platforms can help you discover and connect with local farmers, expanding your access to locally sourced food.
Cultivate your own garden or planter: If space permits, consider growing your own fruits, vegetables, or herbs. This allows you to have control over the growing process and relish the satisfaction of consuming food you've cultivated yourself.
When we embrace the benefits of eating locally, we foster freshness, seasonality, environmental sustainability, community, and support for the local economy. By choosing locally sourced food, we prioritize our well-being, strengthen our connection to the food we eat, and contribute to the resilience of our communities. Let's explore local food options, savor their unique flavors, and promote a healthier, more sustainable future for generations to come by supporting local farmers and embracing seasonal eating.
Strawberry Basil Galette
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (vegan) butter, cold and cubed
3-4 tablespoons ice water
2 cups fresh local strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon plant-based milk (for brushing)
1 tablespoon coarse sugar (for sprinkling)
Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, and salt. Add the cold cubed (vegan) butter to the flour mixture and use your fingers or a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Gradually add the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork until the dough starts to come together. Be careful not to overmix. Once the dough holds together when pinched, shape it into a disk and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
In a separate bowl, combine the sliced strawberries, sliced basil leaves, maple syrup, cornstarch, and vanilla extract. Gently toss until the strawberries are coated evenly.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled dough into a circle, about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer the rolled-out dough onto the prepared baking sheet.
Arrange the strawberry and basil mixture in the center of the dough, leaving a border of about 2 inches. Fold the edges of the dough over the strawberries, pleating as needed to create a rustic look.
Brush the edges of the dough with some plant-based milk of your choice and sprinkle coarse sugar over the dough.
Bake the galette in the preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the strawberries are juicy and bubbly.
Remove the galette from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving. You can enjoy it warm or at room temperature.
Serve the vegan basil strawberry galette as is or with a scoop of vegan ice cream for an extra treat. Enjoy the delightful combination of sweet strawberries and aromatic basil from your garden!
Note: Adjust the sweetness of the filling by adding more or less maple syrup, depending on your preference and the sweetness of the strawberries. Feel free to add more basil leaves for a stronger basil flavor, if desired.