Why is eating local food good for you and for the planet?
There many benefits of eating locally sourced and locally grown food.
In recent times there have been a flurry of discussions around the several health benefits of eating locally sourced and locally grown food products. From the fact that our bodies are attuned to certain types of foods because of our origins, to the reduction in the carbon footprint because of the lesser distance the food has to travel, or that as a consequence of buying local food you help sustain small farmers and local businesses in your region, there are a myriad reasons why all of us should think about switching our food habits to be in sync with our bodies’ requirements and with the environment around us.
Locally grown food which is endemic to a region has the obvious advantage of being fresher but more importantly it helps farmers maintain the variety and diversity of the crops they have been growing for decades rather than forcing them to switch to a single crop because it is the latest trend, but which is neither nutrient-rich nor suitable for the people who are residing in that region. Many of us may remember studying about the disadvantages of monoculture when single crops grown over a wide area result in the detriment of the soil, and thus the food produced therein. The reality is that our food is only as nutrient-dense as the soil in which it is grown and a rotational form of farming by growing different crops depending on the season helps replenish the soil. When a single crop is planted in the same place every year, the soil structure slowly deteriorates as the same nutrients are used time and time again.
Unfortunately, because of the trend of certain exotic food items becoming a fad suddenly, farmers and farmer communities have stopped growing many ancient food grains which were super-foods and extremely nutritious. This is a tremendous loss to all of us if we are serious about making changes to lead healthier lifestyles and also sincere about salvaging the environment.
Rujuta Diwekar, India’s leading nutrition and exercise science expert talks about one such ancient pulse “India had one pulse called the kuleeth, or the horse gram, which is now disappearing fast. Grown across the subcontinent, it was once celebrated as a wholesome meal for lactating mothers, a therapy for kidney stones and gallstones, and a natural stress reliever for the entire farming eco-system. Every region of the world has its own heritage food–its own kuleeth–which is now losing out to the current rage of super foods” she says.
According to Ayurveda, India’ s ancient Science of life, our bodies don’t exist in exception to the natural world but are integrated with it and dependent on it for health and wellbeing. We need to live in harmony with the seasons and eat in sync with nature and if we forget to do so the consequences can include poor immunity, unhealthy weight gain or loss, bad skin and hair quality. Eating locally sourced food thus has the additional benefit of eating in accordance with the seasons, which can be a powerful preventative health measure too.
The benefits of locally grown food are many, and it is time that we all woke up to this fact, if we want a healthier body and a healthier planet for ourselves!
Author: Apurva Purohit, Co-Founder | Aazol