Eating Local, Thinking Global

April 22, 2009

By now I hope we all know that eating locally grown food is good for the planet. It reduces shipping and our dependency on foreign oil and foods flown and shipped in from foreign countries. These foods, grown to be shipped long distances are harvested before peak nutritional value. When we buy them we pay more and get less in the way of critical micronutrients.

Local food, picked ripe, contains greater amounts of the essential critical nutrients, and if the local crop is organically grown, it contains a significantly greater amount of these essentials. Additionally, it has only been since the advent of rail and air travel and refrigeration that foods not indigenous to an area have been available. The human race adapted to eating locally for ten thousand plus years up until the age of refrigeration, and in the opinion of many experts, we have not had time to adapt to eating outside of nature’s plan.

Example: Years ago there were severe fires across Canada’s northwest combined with drought. The caribou herds that the locals depended on were sick and dying as a heavy winter took hold. Texas ranchers came to the rescue, so they thought when they airlifted tons of hay up to the Canadians and their caribou herds. The herds fed and froze to death. No one realized that nature, in its wisdom, puts more essential fatty acids in northern grasses to allow them to withstand the colder climate. These fatty acids, when consumed by the local caribou, also allowed the caribou to withstand the cold. Texas hay doesn’t need additional fatty acids to keep from freezing as it doesn’t get that cold in Texas. The caribou, standing knee deep in snow, froze to death. This may be an extreme example of why it’s wise to eat local foods, but it certainly demonstrates that it doesn’t pay to break natures plan.

Example: We have been educated to eat lots of fruit each day. Usually, breakfast has become a time for fruit and carbohydrates, which is quite different from when I was a boy. In the summer we had fruit often, but during the winter it wasn’t available, so we ate a breakfast high in protein and healthy fat. We hardly ever got colds. Eating non-local breakfast items and processed high sugar items leads to multiple infection winters, and we all know that winter illness is much more frequent and severe than it used to be. Do you think it could be because microbes metabolize sugars for their energy, and when you provide an abundance of food the microbes will come? Gosh, how did we miss that? Put a healthy piece of whole wheat bread out for a day or two and watch the mold form. If we feed them they will come.

I hope these examples help make sense of the wisdom behind “eating locally.”

Now, how do we go about eating a more healthy local diet? We stress eating the foods that are indigenous to the area in which we live in the seasons when they are available. Last month I attended a meeting of the Kansas City Food Circle, a group of area farmers who grow and promote healthy, local, naturally raised, organic foods. This is where you can get information, for example, about where to get organically grown veggies and grass fed and grass finished beef. You can also get information about local restaurants that feature “locally grow” on their menus. There’s information about all the local farmers’ markets with times and dates, and a wealth of other helpful information. I have learned that by buying direct I seldom pay more because I’ve eliminated the middle man, and I get enhanced nutritional value for my dollar, and that results in improved health and lower medical bills.

Go to KC Food Circle, for your family’s sake.

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