By Shraddha Rathod, CEO of Freshspire
Other than the fact that I love to eat, I didn’t grow up in the food space. Like most of us, I have no immediate farming background, or in any other part of the food value chain. But I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few years meeting people, listening, interviewing experts, visiting farms, attending events, and reading about our food systems. I’ve learned about what’s working and what’s not. I’ve made some great friends, who work hard every day to make sure our communities get nutritious food.
At Freshspire, we focus on local food - making it easier for retailers, chefs, and distributors to connect with farmers around them, and vice versa. So in this piece, I wanted to share a little bit about why we do what we do. It’s important to stay connected and near where our food is produced - after all, it is a necessity for life.
So here are 5 of what I think are the most impactful reasons to eat local:
Supporting local economies - This is probably the most apparent positive impact of local food. Dollars spent on farm fresh food often stays inside local communities. Farmers are then able to use that money to expand their farming infrastructure, and can often re-invest that money locally (inputs, equipment, workers, etc.). We also can form stronger personal relationships and community by interacting with where our food comes from.
Helping the environment - Local food systems have multiple environmental benefits. By supporting farmers near you, you give them the ability to maintain their farmland and fertile grounds. It ultimately increases the greenery in our communities.
Minimizing food waste - This hasn’t been well documented, but by reducing the number of miles food travels, we reduce spoilage & imperfections that often occurs during long distance travels. If a shipment from across the country is rejected, then it is often thrown out, as the drivers don’t usually have the relationships to find alternate uses for the food.
Flavor and nutrition - We can get better quality food! When your food doesn’t have to travel very far, it is often picked at the peak of ripeness which equals peak flavor. Studies have also shown that the longer food sits, the nutrient content diminishes. By sourcing locally, food travels less (from a nearby county vs across the country), and has spent a shorter amount of time out of the ground.
Marketing benefits - As a business, finding your food supply locally has financial benefits too! Consumers are becoming more interested in where our food is coming from, sustainability, and social issues. Stores and restaurants can often use their sourcing choices as a way to bring in more customers, and can usually charge a small premium. Paying attention to specialty crops nearby can also help chefs come up with creative dishes for customers! Keep it fresh!
At Freshspire, we aim to provide more data regarding our local food systems to better quantify what the positive impact is and how we can increase it. It’ll make a difference if we are more conscious about the food we eat. This could mean browsing the “local produce” section at your grocery store or purposefully choosing a farm to table restaurant for your next special occasion. Let’s work together to strengthen our local food communities.