Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Eat local this National Nutrition Month -- and all year long!

Access to fresh, local food products not only improves health, but provides the opportunity to talk to producers about the food is grown. We can all support the revival of real, healthy, clean, and fair food by supporting local agriculture!

Over the last 20 years or so, convenient, cheap, processed food has dominated the food arena. A shift in agricultural politics and economics throughout the 1970s and '80s jump-started this trend by making commodity products like meat, corn and soy very cheap while creating food deserts lacking affordable, fresh, healthy food.

Up until the past 5 to 10 years, family-owned farms were disappearing while waistlines and rates of chronic disease like diabetes and heart disease were increasing.

In Springfield, however, a culture of local food is in fact alive and well: Local restaurants are selling local food and community gardens are growing it. There are locally-based food marts and farmer's markets that distribute local food products.
This area is also proud to have the Ozarks Food Policy Council with a mission of building community relationships and alliances around local food and farming. More information on their efforts is available at the Ozark's Regional Food Policy Council website.

Why Does This Matter?

Eating locally not only supports local farmers but it truly matters to people who want to promote better nutrition while spreading the joys of good food!

Local food is more than a business transaction.

  • Local food is more flavorful, and contains more nutrients, as it is harvested at the peak of ripeness in-season. It's also tastes better because it's transported shorter distances and available to eat sooner.
  • Buying locally supports the local economy by profiting the farmers who then are able to reinvest in businesses nearby.
  • Purchasing close to home minimizes the impact on the environment by supporting the use of organic methods and keeping operations small while preserving open community spaces.
  • It allows for the creation of a safety net and increases food security by reducing the steps between you and your food source. 
Most Importantly…

Local food us rediscover the food that nourishes us!  It allows us to be acquainted with the grower, allows us the opportunity to have important conversations about the realities of food production while gaining an appreciation for this three-times-a-day, life-sustaining necessity that we call food.

With these things in mind, whether you eat out frequently, or prefer a night in with friends or family over a homemade meal, there are plenty of ways to honor a long-lost but revived tradition here in Springfield, Missouri!