Buy Local in the 100 Mile Challenge!

by | May 11, 2011 | Eat Well | 0 comments

What is the 100 Mile Challenge and Why Buy Local?

The 100 mile challenge is exactly what it sounds like: you challenge yourself to buy local and eat only foods grown, produced and sold within 100 miles of your home. The length of the challenge is up to you and can range anywhere from a week to a year or longer. Here are a few reasons why you should give it a try!

buy local fresh produce from the farm sign

Local produce tastes better

When you buy produce locally, it was most likely picked in the last couple of days, which makes it crisp and flavourful. Produce that travels long distances (from California, Florida, Chile or Holland) is days older and their sugars often turn to starches, or their plant cells shrink and the produce loses its vitality and flavour.

It is more nutritious

Once harvested, produce quickly loses nutrients. For example, produce that’s ‘flash-frozen’ just after harvest is often more nutritious than “fresh” produce that’s on the supermarket shelf for a week. Since local produce is sold right after it’s picked, it retains more nutrients.

Local food preserves genetic diversity

Large commercial farms grow a relatively small number of hybrid fruits and vegetables that are able to withstand the rigours of harvesting, packing, shipping and storage. This leaves little genetic diversity in the food supply. By contrast, family farms grow a huge number of varieties to extend their growing season, provide eye-catching colours and great flavour. Many varieties are “heirlooms”, passed down through the generations because of their excellent flavour. Older varieties contain the genetic structure of hundreds or thousands of years of human selection and may provide the diversity needed to thrive in a changing climate.

Local food promotes energy conservation

The average distance our food travels is 1500 miles, mostly by air and truck, increasing our dependence on petroleum. By buying locally, you conserve the energy that’s used for transport.

Local food supports local farmers

The Canadian family farmer is a vanishing breed – there are less than 1,000,000 people who claim farming as a primary occupation. Why? Maybe because it’s hard to make a living: family farmers get less than 10 cents of every retail food dollar. By buying locally, the middleman disappears and the farmer gets full retail price, helping farmers continue to farm.

box of fresh produce in garden

Local food builds community

By getting to know the farmers who grow your food, you build understanding, trust and a connection to your neighbours and your environment. The weather, the seasons and the science of growing food offers great lessons in nature and agriculture. Visiting local farms with children and grandchildren brings that education and appreciation to the next generation.

Local food preserves open space

As you enjoy visits to the country to see lush fields of crops, meadows of wildflowers, picturesque barns and rolling pastures, remember that our treasured agricultural landscape survives only when farms are financially viable. By spending your money on locally grown food, you’re increasing the value of the land to the farmer and making development less likely.

Local food supports the environment and benefits wildlife

Family farmers are good stewards of the land – they respect and value fertile soil and clean water. And their farms provide the fields, meadows, forests, ponds and buildings that are the habitat for many beloved and important species of wildlife.

It’s is about the future

Supporting local farms today helps keep those farms in your community, ensuring your children and grandchildren have access to nourishing, flavourful and abundant food. When you choose to buy locally, and make your choices known, you raise the consciousness of your family, friends and neighbours.