Wondering why you should consume more local foods? According to Strolling of the Heifers, local food consumption supports local farms, boosts the local economy, builds more connected communities, preserves open space, attracts tourists, and is good for the soil. Plus, when you choose local food, you’re consuming fresher and more flavorful food that has traveled a short distance, contributing little waste.

tomatoTaste the difference.

At a farmers’ market, most local produce has been picked inside of 24 hours. It comes to you ripe, fresh, and with its full flavor, unlike supermarket food that may have been picked weeks or months before

Know what you’re eating.

Buying food today is complicated. What pesticides were used? Is that corn genetically modified? Was that chicken free range or did it grow up in a box? People who eat locally find it easier to get answers. You can often ask the farmer, him or herself.

Meet your neighbors.

Local eating is social. Studies show that people shopping at farmers’ markets have 10 times more conversations than their counterparts at the supermarket. Join a community garden and you’ll actually meet the people you pass on the street.

Get in touch with the seasons.

When you eat locally, you eat what’s in season. You’ll remember that cherries are the taste of summer. Even in winter, comfort foods like squash soup and pancakes just make sense. Life is too short to eat flavourless cherries from the other side of the world in a Canadian winter.

Discover new flavors.

Ever tried sunchokes? How about purslane, quail eggs, yerba mora, or tayberries? These are just a few of the flavors you could sampleover a year of local eating. Local spot prawns, we learned, are tastier than popular tiger prawns. Even familiar foods were more interesting. Count the types of potatoes on offer at your supermarket. Maybe three? Baking, Yukon Gold, and Red Skins. Small farms are keeping alive many other heritage varieties–while too many more have been lost in our rush to sameness .

Explore your home.

Visiting local farms is a way to be a tourist on your own home turf, with plenty of stops for snacks.

It’s good for the environment.

A study in Iowa found that a regional diet consumed 17 times less oil and gas than a typical diet based on food shipped across the country. The ingredients for a typical British meal, sourced locally, traveled 66 times fewer “food miles.” Or we can just keep burning those fossil fuels and learn to live with global climate change, the fiercest hurricane seasons in history, wars over resources…

Support small farms.

Many people from all walks of life dream of working the land–maybe you do too. In areas with strong local markets, the family farm is reviving. That’s a whole lot better than the jobs at Wal-Mart and fast-food outlets that the globalized economy offers in North American towns.

Give back to the local economy.

A British study tracked how much of the money spent at a local food business stayed in the local economy, and how many times it was reinvested. The total value was almost twice the contribution of a dollar spent at a supermarket chain .

Be healthy.

Everyone wants to know whether eating locally works as a weight-loss program. You will feel better, eat more vegetables and fewer processed products, sampled a wider variety of foods, and eat more fresh food at its nutritional peak. You will be eating health.

Create memories.

I have fond memories of cooking with friends: making pepper relish, pickles, strawberry or peach jam and more to come.

Have more fun while traveling.

When travelling, I try to eat local foods, whether it is on a beach in Tamil Nadu, a desert in Rajasthan, a tea estate in the Darjeeling, or the island of Boracay in The Philipppines. I am never sorry I did.

bangalore farmers market

A Bangalore, India street vendor.