Over the last 20 years, farmers’ markets in the US have quadrupled, with almost 70% of consumers expressing more interest in fresh, local, and organic foods.

This rise in the farm-to-table trend might be hard to understand if you’re not familiar with the key advantages of eating locally.

Whether you’re off to the grocery store or you’re searching for places to eat, here are a few reasons to consider finding a local source for your next meal.

1. It’s Great for the Environment

Did you know that on average, the foods on your plate have traveled around 1,500 miles to reach you?

This transportation generates large amounts of carbon dioxide emissions and consumes large quantities of fossil fuels. That’s in addition to the heavy packaging and processing! All of these things, of course, are harmful to the environment.

This contrasts with the environmental benefits of eating locally: local foods tend to have less or no packaging, and they don’t travel as far to reach your plate. This means less pollution overall, which is a huge win!

2. It Supports Your Community

When you buy foods that come from elsewhere in the world, you’re supporting producers in other regions or even other countries.

When you eat local, you’re supporting local farmers and producers. This keeps money within your local economy, which means more of your money will go toward local amenities, resources, and markets.

It also helps to create jobs and helps the businesses you love to survive. This is true whether you’re heading to a farmers’ market or to your favorite local restaurant with local ingredients. For a great example of a menu with fresh and local ingredients, check it out.

3. It’s Healthier

If the first two reasons aren’t enough to catch your attention, eating local is great for your health!

Local foods don’t need to be altered in order to maintain their freshness over long distances, which means you’re getting unprocessed versions of your favorite foods. When compared to similar foods that have traveled long distances, local produce tends to have more vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants, all of which break down over long periods.

It’s also worth mentioning that many of the techniques used to maintain food can be bad for our health. Local growers tend to use fewer pesticides, artificial fertilizers, and harsh chemicals than their corporate cousins, which means you’ll be putting fewer of those things into your mouth. The same is true of processed foods, which are loaded with artificial sweeteners and synthetic flavors, which impacts their nutritional quality.

Last, but not least, one of the benefits of eating locally is the taste itself! Without sweeteners, artificial ingredients, and preservatives—and having spent little time getting from farm to plate—fresh local food simply tastes better.

Start Eating Locally Today

The best thing about eating locally is that it isn’t hard to get started. You don’t have to travel far or change much of what you eat; all you need to do is buy it from local businesses! With the key benefits above, you’ll know that you’re investing in the environment, your community, and your taste buds with every bite.

Want to learn more about the foods you’re putting into your mouth? Be sure to take a look at our other content for helpful guides like this one!