Eating Local has become a major movement in our country’s food system. We have probably seen the phrase “Eat Local” plastered on signs, T-shirts, bumper stickers and the like. But why is it so important to eat local?

Energy! You may have noticed that your food has come from some far away places. Much of the food that we eat travels more than 2,000 miles to get to Minnesota. If you have ever road tripped to the West Coast, you can imagine the trip the lettuce at the grocery store has made. All of that fuel and time between harvest and it reaching the consumer seems wasteful considering there are farmers close to your home who grow incredible lettuce. Not only is fuel a consideration though, many types of produce require special circumstances to make the trip looking “fresh.” This may include refrigeration or cooling systems and often a special mix of carbon dioxide and oxygen. It is obvious to say that when it comes to energy Local uses Less!

Nutrition. Speaking of that 2,000 mile journey, the longer fruits and veggies spend on their road trip, or in storage before being delivered to you, the greater the loss of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. The moment produce is harvested, its enzymes begin decomposing and feeding on precious nutrients. A study from Montclair State University revealed that the vitamin C content of broccoli was cut in half when it was imported from out of the country, compared to when it was sourced locally. Also, local produce that vine ripens is also allowed to build more nutrients when it is harvested at it’s peak, and not harvest before fully ripe to make the trip. So many people can attest to a vine ripened local tomato tasting more incredible than anything shipped in from far away. Local food is fresher, especially with the North Circle Food Hub, pre-ordered produce is not harvest until typically the day of pick-up. You really will not find anything fresher unless you grew it yourself.

Education. Eating local food can be a learning experience. Through services like the North Circle Food hub or local CSA’s customers are able to learn about when certain foods are in season, and when they are at peak ripeness. You can also learn about what things do well in your growing zone, and the opportunity to try vegetables and fruits you may not have known about before. Many local farmers are excited to share cooking tips and recipes with their customers and the North Circle Food Hub will be excited to share some of our favorites with you.

Support Local Farmers. Buying food from local farmers allows them to keep doing what they do best! Farmers hold great wisdom about the natural world. In our rural communities farming plays a critical role in our lifestyles. Could you imagine North Branch, Stark, Cambridge and other surrounding communities without their beautiful agricultural landscapes? Supporting local farmers helps to support our landscapes and the small family farms who are stewards of that land. Knowing where your food comes from connects you to the people who raise and grow it.  The food you buy has a great story, from a real person who may just be your neighbor.

Keep Local Dollars Local. The New Economics Foundation, an independent economic think tank based in London, compared what happens when people buy produce at a supermarket vs. a local farmer’s market or CSA and found that twice the money stayed in the community when folks bought locally. “That means those purchases are twice as efficient in terms of keeping the local economy alive,” says author and NEF researcher David Boyle. This can extend beyond produce, in North Branch, and other surrounding communities of Chisago and Isanti Counties there are so many restaurant owners, tradesman/women, artists, gardeners, and more who are striving to survive in our local economy. When we make a commitment to buy local food, shop at local businesses and employ local labor, we can support each other in way that helps our communities not only survive but to thrive.