One of the main tenants of the Ancestral Diet (Paleo or Primal) is to eat locally. As we were ‘growing-up’ as a species, before the advent of agriculture, we could only eat what we could find growing wild or what we could hunt. Hence, we were hunter-gatherer’s. We did this for around 200,000 years. This means that our genes are designed to eat a variety food that can be walked to in less than a day.
Unfortunately, today our diets can’t be considered local. In fact, they are far from local. The average distance an American meal travels from farm to fork is about 1500 miles! This is basically the distance from my office here in Dallas, TX to Boston, MA. There are significant problems with this in regards to the freshness of the food. Usually it takes three to five days after harvest to get to your local grocery store, so these foods were harvested five to ten days before they were ripe or when our ancestors would have eaten them. These last few days of ripening on the “vine” are crucial for the vegetable or fruit when some of the last and best nutrients are concentrated. And we haven’t even mentioned that growing seasons, climate and even the types of agriculture are significantly different over these 1500 miles.
There are also major draw backs from the massive distance the food travels, the large consumption of fossil fuel, generation of carbon dioxide emissions (some more polluting than others), and sacrifice of quality of product. With the increase in the “Eat Local” movement its truly becoming increasingly unnecessary for this ‘traveling’ of our food to take place because we really can eat locally – and seasonally – with very little sacrifice. In fact it may be the only way that we can move to a sustainable lifestyle.
I am lucky to live in North Texas, and thanks to the wealth of farmer’s markets and food co-ops that have popped up (all over the country, actually) its becoming very easy to eat locally. There is even a Guild that produces zip code specific honey. They have a dozen properties around town where they raise their bees. Their raw unfiltered honey provides a local element and is a great benefit to your system and allergy relief.
Better health isn’t the only benefit that we’ll get if we eat locally. There are actually many benefits, one of them being the fulfilling experience of getting your hands dirty planting and growing your own food as we are loosing our connections to the land. And it is an interesting experience to shake the hands of the people who grew your food, especially if it was right around the corner.
Here’s a site that will whet your appetite and encourage you to walk – around the corner for your food! Check out Edible Dallas for 24 – yes, 24 – local farmer’s markets located in Dallas, Richardson, McKinney, Frisco, Rockwall, Keller, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, Prosper, Denton, Arlington, Balch Springs, Ft. Worth, Waxahachie, and Coppell. Some are open only on weekends, some all week-long. You can find fresh produce, nuts, eggs and meats to compliment your paleo menu.
No matter where you live, on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Farmer’s Market Directory site you’ll find literally thousands of markets all across the land with an abundance of fresh food. For example, the list shows 822 markets in California, about 650 in Florida, almost as many in New York, and several hundred across the state of Texas. It’s growing every day and was just updated this month. So there really are no excuses to not eat locally. There is also a ton of great info on sustainabletable.org, it’s an amazing site about the sustainable food movement.