When it comes to nutrition, organic food has long been the standard for a-grade fruits and vegetables—and yes, tomatoes grown without harmful pesticides are better for personal + planetary health. But according to our friends at the Rodale Institute, there’s an even better option for produce: BUY LOCAL.
Local Fruits + Veggies Have More Nutrients
After you harvest a fruit or vegetable, its nutrient count starts to go down… and if an apple gets picked in Oregon and has to travel all the way to Texas, it’s going to lose a lot of vitamins and antioxidants on its way to the Lone Star State. By contrast, the Gala Apples that grow beautifully in Walnut Creek, TX will retain a lot more of their Vitamin C, potassium, and other vital minerals if they get eaten soon after they’re picked, and closer to home.
Local Fruits + Veggies Taste Better
Those vitamins and minerals we’re talking about? They don’t just recharge your body—they also light up your taste buds. A carrot you pick from your own garden is going to taste like a crunchy, juicy dream. A carrot that languishes for five days on a truck likely won’t retain the same “wow” factor.
Local Fruits + Veggies Have a Lower Carbon Footprint
Shipping food isn’t just expensive—it’s also denting our atmosphere. When the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization paired with Columbia University and NASA (like, 🚀🚀🚀) on a paper in 2021, they found that over 30% of global carbon emissions come from the food industry… and hauling avocados from California to Maine is definitely part of the problem.
Local Fruits + Veggies Support Your Local Economy
When you buy local, your money stays local, providing more opportunities—and giving more sales tax for benefits like better schools, libraries, and parks—to the people and organizations where you live. (Including you!)
Local Fruits + Veggies Help Prevent Your Home From Flooding
Small farms help prevent inland flooding by promoting stronger root systems, better groundwater storage, and less erosion during storms. Meanwhile in cities like New York, rooftop farms are helping divert rainwater from overwhelming streets and sewer systems, instead irrigating crops like lettuce and tomatoes for local community centers and shelters.
Local Fruits + Veggies Often Come With Sheep and Horses
Okay, so where do you get these mythical neighborhood veggies? First, check out your regular supermarket, which often tells you exactly where their produce is coming from. (Pro tip: Those little stickers on the apples? They’ve usually got the farm location. Sneaky!)
Next, if you live in an urban area, you’ve probably got a farmer’s market nearby. These weekend events are a great way to meet local farmers in your area, ask questions, get recipe recommendations, and—if you’re a Younger fan—scope out any dudes who raise sheep and look like Matthew Morrison. (Although… spoiler alert… maybe don’t?)
Finally, you might want to try—gasp—growing them yourself. An Aerogarden can get you a serious lettuce haul in just a few weeks, an apartment window box can get you herbs like basil and mint for cooking and baking, and if you’ve got a porch or backyard—even a tiny one? Cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers are coming your way.
Does this mean you must do an entire overhaul of fruit and veggie shopping? Nope. But if you swap just one of your weekly pieces of produce for a local option, you’ll be doing your body, your taste buds, your neighborhood, and your planet a favor. Give it a try.