Why the emphasis on local food?

March is Nutrition Month® and this year’s theme is about celebrating food from field to table. This month dietitians across Canada are encouraging consumers to choose local food and enjoy home cooked meals with friends and family.

Why the emphasis on local food? The more food is processed, packaged and shipped the more negative impact it has on the environment.

Foods that are grown close to home can be consumed fresh and have more flavour (think of a fresh picked strawberry in the summer versus one shipped from California in January, big difference!). As well, buying foods that are grown in your region supports the local economy and helps create a more sustainable food system.

How is local defined? Well that’s debateable but in my opinion sourcing your foods as close to home as possible is best, but any conscious effort to choose at least some B.C. products is great. When you can’t source something from B.C. look for the next closest alternative, for example, apples grown in Ontario travelled less distance than those from New Zealand.

How can you tell if a product is local? Read the label or ask at the store.

When it comes to fruits and vegetables most grocery stores will carry some B.C. produce, but selection varies throughout the year. Look for foods labelled ‘BC Grown’. Variety is low at this time of year, but there are some options such as apples, winter squash, carrots, and other root vegetables. All the basics for homemade soup, chilli, stew or roasted vegetables.

Source a variety of foods as local as possible including grains, meat, eggs, dairy, seasonal produce and specialty foods.

The more aware you are of where foods come from the easier it is to opt for something more local. Visit the Nutrition Month section on the Dietitians of Canada website for nutrition resources or more information about foods grown in Canada www.dietitians.ca.

Remember, in May the Farmer’s Markets will be open again.  Plan to fit a local Farmer’s Market it into your weekly shopping routine; I highly recommend it, it’s one of the best ways to shop seasonal and local.

By Simone Jennings, Registered Dietitian Interior Health