Here’s perhaps the best news about “modern nutrition”— a return to the food wisdom of time-honored traditions. Local traditional cultures recognize the value of growing food, picking fresh, home cooking and eating together to celebrate the gifts of Mother Earth. There are many advantages of being a locavore, one who eats food grown less than 500 miles from where you live. Getting connected by eating locally grown abounds with health and social benefits.
Increasing resilience and immunity by eating the nutrients from one’s local environment is a top reason to eat locally. Eating locally can supply the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients needed to survive with good health in our environment. It is much more beneficial to obtain these from whole foods direct from nature, to benefit from enzymes and the ideal combination of nutrients for synergy within the food plant.
Advantages of Buying Locally Grown
As obtaining good quality food increasingly becomes a global challenge, now is a good time to be aware of the ethics of maximizing nutritional gain from the food we eat. Consider the following in your decision to buy locally grown, organic food:
· Organic food has up to 40 percent more nutrients than pesticide-treated, imported food.
· Biodynamically grown food is nutrient-dense, since rich nutrients in the soil translate to more nutritional value in the food.
· Freshness translates to fewer nutrients lost during transport.
· Food cravings decrease when eating whole foods, due to the high fiber content, blood sugar stabilization and nutrient satisfaction.
· When the body is obtaining all the nutrients needed for vibrant health from a smaller amount of food, less food is needed overall, lowering costs.
· When less food is eaten, weight loss and maintenance of a healthy weight are likely.
· The chance to connect at farmers’ markets, talking with and learning from our local farmers, as well as with other locals, brings social satisfaction to one’s life.
The upward spiral of vibrant health, ideal weight and ease of exercise, plus supporting the development of a local food supply, is an incentive for us all to seek out locally grown food.
Where to Find Local Foods
Local farmers’ markets, CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture shares), cooperatives and natural grocery stores are the key places to find locally grown foods. When you shop at a farmers’ market:
· The full sale goes to the grower, which is much more sustaining to the farm than a wholesale price. The average annual farm income is less than $10,000 a year in New Mexico.
· You often have the opportunity to ask the farmer about his/her growing methods and, if possible, choose biodynamically grown.
· Most farmers pick their produce between 3 and 5 a.m. to transport to you for same-day freshness and to prevent nutrient loss.
· This method of buying food furthers a connection to Mother Earth.
· Contact with the farmer offers a chance to thank the person who grew your food for his or her labor of love.
A win/win situation for both your health and local farms is well within your reach.
Consider the Adventure
Imagine a culinary road trip, discovering nutrient-rich heirloom varieties in vibrant colors—hanging ristras, corn in varied hues, and fresh roasting chiles. Ventures into rural areas or socializing at an urban market connects you to local cultures and food traditions. Linking with local farmers also affords you an opportunity to discover time-honored methods of food preparation.
There are dozens of farmers’ markets in central and northern New Mexico to choose from for your outing. To find a market within a given distance from your home, use the locator at: http://farmersmarketsnm.org/find-a-market/. Follow the back roads to combine historical and food interest. (For information on New Mexico’s historic trails, see http://www.newmexicoculture.org)
Eating fresh foods in season also enables you to find bargains at farmers’ markets, not to mention to eat in sync with nature. To identify these foods in New Mexico, visit:
For cultural interest, seek out the market opportunities sponsored by local Native American communities. Check these out: Jémez Farmers’ Market (575.834.7207, Red Rocks, Hwy. 4); San Felipe Farmers’ Market (505.771-6642, Hollywood Casino, west parking lot); Pojoaque Farmers’ Market (Pueblo of Pojoaque, 505.455.9086, next to the Poeh Cultural Center and Museum in summer, Buffalo Thunder Resort in winter); Red Willow Farmers Market (Taos Pueblo, 575.770.1362, 885 Star Road, just off Veteran’s Highway, behind Tony Reyna’s Indian Gift Shop on the main road into the pueblo).
Items sold may include locally grown and produced veggies such as: chiles, carrots, tomatoes, cilantro, tatsoi, onions, kale, chard, garlic, turnips, beets and radishes. See the broad array of local varieties of beans, corn and squash; many are rarely available in local stores. You can also find value-added products such as: pickles, energy bars (hemp and organic-based bars), all-natural homemade body products (yucca shampoo, goat’s milk soaps, detox bath soaks, etc.), farm fresh eggs, pueblo oven-baked goods (breads, pies and cookies, handmade tortillas (white flour and blue corn), and natural homemade healing balms.
Often artists will sell alongside food growers. Enjoy the cultural adventure of direct contact with local people and foods—our New Mexico treasures!
Susan Guyette, Ph.D., is of Métis heritage (Micmac Indian/Acadian French) and a planner specializing in nutrition, native foods, cultural tourism, cultural centers, and museums. Her passion is supporting the cultural retention of time-honored traditions. She is the author of Sustainable Cultural Tourism: Small-Scale Solutions; Planning for Balanced Development; and co-author of Zen Birding: Connect in Nature. firstname.lastname@example.org.