Most Americans shop at their local grocery store and don’t even question where the fresh food came from—or if there’s a better option for sourcing quality, affordable food from local farms. What you might not realize is that you can go straight to those farms to seek out locally grown products to bring home and feed your family.
Visiting a local farm to buy food might be a fun activity, but the benefits don’t end there. In fact, buying directly from local farms can deliver a number of important health benefits to you and your family. Here’s a look at seven different benefits you get just by going straight to the source.
1. Educate yourself on the food you’re eating.
Most local farms aren’t just in it for the money—they’re also passionate about the products they grow and raise, and they’re eager to pass on their passion and knowledge to their customers. When you shop at local farms, you can ask questions directly to the farmer, and learn more about how those foods are grown, and also how to prepare them for meals.
2. Get recipe ideas and cooking tips from local farmers.
Are you interested in eating certain food products, but you’re not sure how to cook them? Farmers are a great resource for cooking tips and even recipes that encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone and prepare exciting, local foods according to expert recommendations.
“If you’ve been reluctant to cook at home in the past, or you just need a little extra encouragement to cook more meals and order from restaurants less, then interacting with farmers is a great way to motivate new cooking habits,” says, David and Rebekkah Arant, owners of Delta Blues Rice, a Farm Families of Mississippi farm in Ruleville, Mississippi.
3. Discover new foods to diversify your diet.
Local farms often offer varieties of produce that aren’t commonly found in your local grocery store. These foods don’t just add a little excitement to your meals: they can also offer different nutrients that enhance your dietary health. A healthy diet is a diverse diet, and local farm produce is an easy resource to discover new options.
4. Teach your children about healthy eating.
Healthy eating is all about developing healthy habits. If you have children in your family, visits to a local farm can help educate them on where their food is coming from, and it can help familiarize them with a wide range of healthy foods. Developing your child’s relationship with healthy foods may help them grow up to be more health-minded when it comes to their diet, as well as inspire them to develop their own cooking skills.
5. Improve the freshness and quality of your produce.
The longer produce has to wait between being picked and being eaten at your dinner table, the more nutrients it loses along the way. By shopping at a local farm, you can guarantee high-quality produce that features the best nutritive qualities, benefiting your family’s health.
6. Sample produce before you buy, so you know exactly what you’re getting.
Some local farms will offer samples of certain foods to help you evaluate the quality and flavor for yourself. Most grocery stores don’t offer this, and even when they do, it’s only for select items.
“Nobody wants to buy a bunch of food without knowing what they’re getting and whether they will like it,” says David and Rebekkah Arant, owners of Delta Blues Rice, a Farm Families of Mississippi farm. . “At a local farm, you can explore your options and consult with farmers to make sure you’re satisfied with whatever products you purchase.”
7. Reduce the risk of food contaminants.
The shipping and storage of foods across a large distance creates opportunities for contaminants to enter the food supply. The same is true for the harvesting and washing process. This increases your risk of eating contaminated food and suffering from food poisoning. When you shop at a local farm, many of these risk factors are reduced or eliminated entirely, which results in safer food and a much lower risk of any health concerns.3
When you develop a relationship with healthy foods and healthy food sources, your overall diet and well-being are sure to benefit. And if these health benefits aren’t enough, remember that a visit to a local farm is a cheap form of entertainment, too!