The holidays are fast approaching, and, with food and festivity preparations underway, consumers are on the hunt.
With the launch of Chicago’s latest holiday “Buy Local” campaign and “Small Business Saturday” fast approaching, consumers are buying gifts from local shops more than ever. But with the emphasis on gift-giving and holiday purchases, it can be easy to skip over one of the most prominent proponents of the local movement-- the food industry.
As a registered dietitian and the nutritionist for CJK Foods, a Chicago-based gourmet meal-delivery service, I understand the importance of sourcing local food whenever possible, especially during upcoming holiday meal preparations.
There are a number of benefits for buying local, but here are some of the top reasons to purchase your food nearby:
The less the food travels, the less energy it uses. With “going green” an ever-popular movement, sustainability continues to be in the spotlight, and local food is the pinnacle of sustainability. Think of the exhaust and pollution it costs for food to travel. By choosing to eat food from a closer location, you will reap the benefits of taste and health while helping out the environment.
Money spent with local farmers, growers, and artisans all stays close to home. According to Chicago’s Buy Local campaign, local businesses return 70 percent of their profits to local economies, whereas some national chains only return an average of 13.6 percent. If residents spend at least $1 each day for a year at local businesses, they can help inject nearly $100 million into the local economy. Who wouldn’t want that?
You know where your food is coming from. Local food is fresher, tastes better, and is better for you! Taste lettuce that was picked yesterday and lettuce picked last week. You can tell the difference. With fewer pesticides and products used during the growing process, and food going through fewer entities, you can rest assured that the products that end up on your table this holiday season are fresh. Not to mention, when food moves through fewer entities, more of the money you spend tends to get straight to the people growing locally.
Jenny Westerkamp, RD is a holistic-minded registered dietitian and author of You Are What You Retweet: 140 Social Media Rules to Eat By. She is the nutritionist for CJK Foods, a prepared meal service featuring organic, local, gluten-free, dairy-free, and superfood ingredients.