Why should we eat local?

1. Eat local for our kids’ future food sources

Teaching kids to eat local is teaching them to eat in-season and from locally grown fresh food sources. It takes their minds off pre-packaged foods, helps them to identify with what is local and where it is coming from.

Our children have been targeted for many years to eat fun food in a pretty box or colourful bag and have been led to believe that a burger with fries is a balanced meal. NOT! A slice of pickle is not a serving of vegetables. And really, where did the meat come from?

Teaching them now to eat local will prevent future health problems for them and for us. We need them to succeed us, and live healthy, longer lives than we do.

Obesity, diabetes, heart attacks and strokes are for the most part, preventable, and the solution is to follow an eat local lifestyle, one day at a time and within reason.

The most important asset we have here in North America is our kids’. If we persist in not paying attention to our local food resources, we may not have them in the near future.

2. Eat local to be Sustainable and environmentally-friendly

Did you know that the average American produces 4.4 lbs (2 kg) of garbage a day which, when multiplied, would be 1,600 lbs (730 kg) a year per person! We can reduce the amount of garbage and destruction by simply eating local, cooking seasonal foods in their raw natural form and reading food labels that identify the country of origin. Garbage produced from fresh food is typically organic material that you can compost at home.

Over the past 50 years we have become accustomed to having very little use for our kitchens. Eating out at fast food restaurants is currently the mainstream, and buying pre-packaged sugar and salt laden foods is now the way to cope with an almost too busy lifestyle.

We need to recognize the connection between ill health and our diet. Plastic is not good for the environment and not good for us. Neither is pollution created by transporting food halfway around the world. Never mind the locally banned farming chemicals and human feces that are used to grow food in Third World Countries.

3. Eat local to teach our kids a healthier lifestyle

Teach kids that eating local creates a balanced nutritional lifestyle. You are able to eat a large variety of foods over the seasons. Teach them to think more about the foods they are eating. Well-balanced diets consist of foods from all food groups, in moderation. Eating a mix of cooked and raw foods is also very important.

Cooking with the kids is vital; taking them to the market and involving them in buying fresh and local is so important. Teach them that eating boxed foods is not a good choice for a healthy diet. Eating freshly peeled vegetables and freshly cut fruits are some of the best ways to get good nutrition

If we want our children to become more active and have the motivation to join sports teams we need to give them the proper fuel to do so. Allowing them to believe that a hot dog is a healthy choice is wrong. Sports drinks and caffeinated beverages are harmful for them, and us!

4. Eat local and know where your food is coming from

Take the time to read all food labels, identify where the food is coming from (Country of Origin), and know that by eating local you are getting the most trusted foods from trusted food sources.

I cannot describe how awful it makes me feel when I see kids getting excited about unhealthy foods. Do they know what could be hiding in the foods they are eating? Canadian famers, for example, cannot use certain chemicals in farming since some chemicals are banned by our government to protect the consumer. This ultimately means that these banned chemicals are seriously bad and we should not be consuming them.

In many other countries today, farming rules and chemical regulations vary.  Some imported foods that you and your children are eating may have been treated with these banned chemicals. SO as bad as boxed foods may be for you and your kids, next time you decide to buy grapes, peaches or apples imported from outside Canada, consider putting them back. They may be just as bad or worse.

5. Eat local to support local communities, growers, farmers and producers, and keeps the $ in our country

Eating local supports our local communities and creates jobs that are sustainable and worth investing in. This is good for us today and for our kids’ future food.  All jobs are not meant to be sitting at a desk.

Seriously, there is no reason why we should be constantly giving away our jobs and our sources of income for cheap commodities. I do not understand the North American mentality, to take advantage of cheap labour in third world countries with the belief that we are doing them a favour.

Many third world families have to emigrate to other countries because they do not have good paying jobs in their own. Their farmers are taken advantage of in many ways before their produce arrives here. They would be better off taking care of their own people and growing food for themselves.

We are not taking care of our country’s people either by allowing too many imported foods and not living local by “eating local.” Our local farmers, growers and producers need our support to be able to sustain a farm, pay employees, purchase heat, hydro, fuel and fertilizers, plus feed their own families too.

I have most recently learned, from dairy farmers in particular, that you cannot make a decent living when subsidized by the government. They need to operate independently or in a co-operative environment and be allowed to charge fair market value for their products. This is fair business for the farmer and good for the local consumer.

This means your food may be more expensive in the future. However, it can also improve the quality of your life, your health and well-being. Simply put, this is “a pay now or pay later” scenario and a major factor in the health of you and your kids in the coming years.

Next time you decide to buy your groceries, “think eat local” and what it means to so many people you may know, and how important it is for all of us to see how much good can come from such a simple approach!

The “eat local” conclusion:

By “eating local” together we can make a difference for our kids, our economy and ourselves by taking these five simple steps and applying them towards a healthier more sustainable way to live our lives. Simply spending $7.00 a day in local food purchases per family can create thousands of jobs, and keep millions of hard earned dollars here where they belong. And what a healthier bunch we will be!

Think fresh *eat local* eat healthy and in-season, always.

Yours,

Stacey Fokas

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