Why it's important
Local food systems offer many economic, environmental, and quality-of-life benefits that apply to both businesses and residents as a whole. As consumers, individuals benefit from having more opportunities to buy fresh produce to cook at home or eat at restaurants. Local entrepreneurs benefit from increased business opportunities, and our communities as a whole benefit from strengthening the local economy.
Builds Sense of Community
The production and consumption of local foods can create a thriving culture, regional identity, and a sense of community heritage. Regional and local relationships between residents, businesses, and farms can be fostered by better integrating local food into the community. For example, a Saturday farmers' market is more than just a retail outlet to buy food. It also provides a social gathering spot for the community and allows people to meet the farmers who grow their food.
Provides Fresh, High-Quality Food
When produce travels only 100 to 250 miles from farm to table rather than across the country or the world, it takes less time and is much fresher when it arrives. Fruits and vegetables shipped from distant farms can spend up to two weeks in transit, while farmers' market produce is often picked just a day or two prior. Produce that travels from farm to marketplace to table can lose some of its nutritional value as more time passes. Minimizing transportation and processing increases the freshness, flavor, and nutrient retention of produce. Better access to fresh, high-quality food also has positive impacts on health. Healthy food decreases the risk of obesity and other diet-related chronic diseases, which are particularly widespread in disadvantaged communities where access to fresh, high quality food is limited -- otherwise known as "food deserts." It is important to enhance access to fresh, high quality food options in these communities and neighborhoods.