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Benefits of Eating Locally Grown Foods

Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Farmer's Market Buying Local

These days, the average produce item travels about 1,500 miles from farm to table. Locavores try to shrink that distance to about a 100-mile radius. A locavore is a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food.

Since we're all supposed to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, spring/summer is a great time to be a locavore. Produce grown at local farms – or your backyard – abounds.

Consumers are more interested than ever about where and how their food is produced. Shopping at a farmer's market or local farm provides an opportunity to talk to the people who are at the center of bringing food from the farm to your table.

There are several benefits of "going local."

Taste the Difference

Many people swear by the taste of local produce. One reason is the freshness – foods picked within 24 hours simply taste fresher.

Better Taste, Better For You

Produce loses nutrients and enzymes the longer it sits. Since local produce has a shorter time between harvest and your table, it is less likely the nutrient value has decreased.

Conventional farms generally grow fruits and vegetables they can mass produce and that will last a long time on the shelf.

Because quantity and durability is a goal, conventionally grown food is more likely to use genetically-modified seeds (GMOs). There is controversy surrounding whether GMO foods are safe for human consumption. Because there is no long-term research on humans and negative health effects shown in animal studies, nutritionists caution against consumption of these foods. Local farms produce food with the goal of selling to the local and direct market (such as local restaurants and farmer's markets), so nutritional quality and taste are more of a priority than durability.

Local Food Is Good for the Local Economy

Spending money at local farm markets keeps those dollars in your community to be reinvested with other local businesses. There are lots of farm markets in our area. You can go online to see what's in season, a list of area farm markets, a listing of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA's) and more.

Benefits for the Environment

Keeping local farms in business means keeping farmland and open and/or green space preserved. With local food traveling a shorter distance (and using less fuel), locavores may also help conserve energy and reduce pollution. And, small farms often adopt environmentally-friendly practices.

Most local farms are transparent in the way they grow their food and are happy to answer your questions about their processes and products.

Seasons and the Value of Variety

From early summer strawberries to fall favorites like apples, local crops offer a variety of seasonal tastes at their peak of flavor. Local farmers are often able to try different crops and offer interesting varieties you might not find elsewhere.

New farmers market at Doylestown Hospital

Doylestown Hospital hosts a farmers market every Wednesday from 1 to 5 p.m. now through late October. The market is set up in the roadway behind the patio of Fresh Inspirations cafeteria. A section of the road is blocked to traffic during this time.

Please bring cash; only a couple vendors take check or credit card.

Here's a look at what you may find at the farmers market:

  • Bucks County Preserves, Fountainville, brings locally made jams, jellies and pie fillings in more than 100 different flavors.
  • Hershberger Heritage Farm, Sellersville, has USDA Certified Organic livestock products raised using a rotational pasture system in Bucks County. Some of their organic offerings include poultry, eggs, pork, grass-fed beef and lamb.
  • Traugers Farm Market, Kintnersville, A 60-acre, family-owned and operated, fruit and vegetable farm located in Bucks County, Pa. 
  • Offbeat Gourmet, Buckingham, specializes in handcrafted sauces, marmalades and condiments using local, all-natural ingredients.
  • The Bread Box & Bakery is a Community Supported Bakery based in Perkasie. They use local ingredients in their breads and desserts. Whenever possible they incorporate local fruits, honey and dairy into their bread and pastries.
  • Bedminster Orchard, Perkasie, offers a variety of tree fruits (peaches, apples), berries and other seasonal produce.

In addition to a great selection of local goods, the farmers market at Doylestown Hospital will host local musicians providing live music on select dates (May 24, June 7 and 21, July 5, August 2, September 6 and October 4).

About Nutrition Counseling of Doylestown Hospital

Doylestown Health's Nutrition Counseling offers personalized nutrition plans for those with a current medical condition or those interested in preventive health and weight loss. Doylestown Health Nutrition Services specializes in nutrition therapy for diabetes, weight management, cardiovascular disease, digestive and eating disorders, pregnancy, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.

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