Why eat locally grown and organic foods?
It’s summer, at last, and locally grown produce is bountiful! Fruits and vegetables cultivated in Quebec provide exquisite quality and freshness. Our agricultural land produces a wide variety of seasonal produce, even in winter! So why turn to blueberries grown in Chile or bell peppers cultivated in Mexico when we produce our own in profusion. Here are a few reasons for choosing locally grown foods.
Get local because:
- Local produce has greater nutritional value* and more flavour: As soon as fruits and vegetables are harvested, their nutritional value starts to decline. Quebec produce doesn’t spend days on end in transit and storage, as is the case for foods imported from Mexico or the States. When we eat ‘local’, the fruits and vegetables are still extremely fresh and rich in nutrients. They are also less expensive!
*To enjoy the most benefits of locally grown foods, you need to adopt a seasonal approach. I invite you to visit calendrier des fruits et des légumes du Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ). Not available in English.
- They support our local economy: According to the MAPAQ, if each consumer were to purchase for $30 a year more of foods produced in Quebec*, the gesture would infuse the local economy with an extra billion dollars in five years. What’s more, a 1% increase in sales would spur the creation of 1,800 jobs, directly and indirectly.
*Look for the following logo on food packages to find those produced in Quebec.
- Eating local foods helps reduce pollution: imported foods travel an average of 2,500 km. The carriers inevitably produce greenhouse gases (GHG).
And what about organic foods?
- Organic farming protects the environment: no synthetic pesticides, no seeds from genetically modified organisms, and no antibiotics or growth hormones fed to animals.
- Animals are respected: animals aren’t crammed into closed hangars; they have a better quality of life, and enjoy normal growth.
- Organic foods taste better: though not scientifically proven, many people seem to think that organic foods are tastier!
Yes, it’s true that organic foods cost more. So if you want to reduce your consumption of synthetic pesticides on non-organic foods, I suggest you rinse your fruits and vegetables well and choose those that are the least contaminated by consulting the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists at http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/
A pleasant, economical way to eat a wide variety of organic foods is to subscribe to the organic food basket service.
If you’re interested in tips and advice for cooking local foods all year round, I suggest you visit the Équiterre web site.
To learn more on this subject, I strongly recommend you read Sauvez la planète une bouchée à la fois by Bernard Lavallée, nutritionist. Actually, his book partially inspired this article.
So what do you think about local and organic foods?
Karine Séguin, nutritionist.
Équiterre. On line: < http://www.equiterre.org/> Consulted June 15, 2015.
MAPAQ, 2007, « Le Québec dans votre assiette : Stratégie d’accroissement des achats de produits alimentaires québécois sur le marché » Consulted June 15, 2015.