Creating a Life Free From Chaos

7 Reasons to Eat Locally

1. Eating local means more $$ for your local economy. If you spend the money in your hometown, the money stays in your hometown. According to a study by the New Economics Foundation in London, a dollar spent locally generates twice as much income for the local economy. When you spend money with businesses that are not locally owned, the money leaves the community at every transaction.

2. Locally grown produce is fresher (and tastes better). Think about it. Produce (and meat) that is purchased in the supermarket has been in transit or cold-stored for days or weeks. But produce that you purchase at your local farmer’s market or meat from your local ranch is fresher — it didn’t have to spend all that time traveling to you. This freshness not only affects the taste of your food, but the nutritional value, which can decline with time.

3. Eating local is better for air quality and pollution than eating organic. In a March 2005 study by the journal Food Policy, it was found that the miles that organic food often travels to our plates creates environmental damage that outweighs the benefit of buying organic. Food produced outside of your area has to be shipped in, by boat, plane or truck, which uses fuel and adds to the already suffocating mass of carbon in the air.

4. Buying local food keeps us in touch with the seasons. By eating with the seasons, we are eating foods when they are at their peak taste, are most abundant, and are the least expensive. It will also give you a new appreciation of how the weather affects your food, what the seasons have to offer and a chance to experiment with seasonal foods when they’re at their best.

5. Buying locally grown food means you can know where it came from and how it was made. Whether it’s the farmer who brings local apples to market, the baker who makes local bread or the rancher that bred the cow that made your hamburger, knowing part of the story about your food is such a powerful part of enjoying a meal. It also gives you the information you really need to assess how nutritional the food is and, if you eat meat, how humanely the animal was treated during its life as well as its lifestyle, which plays a huge part in the taste and nutrients in the meat.

6. Local food equals more variety. When a farmer is producing food that does not have to travel a long distance, will have a shorter shelf life, and does not have a high-yield demand, the farmer is free to experiment with small crops of various fruits and vegetables that would probably never make it to a large supermarket. Supermarkets are interested in selling “name brand” fruit — the standards you know by name: Romaine Lettuce, Red Delicious Apples, Russet Potatoes. Local producers often play with their crops from year to year, trying out Little Gem Lettuce, Senshu Apples, and Chieftain Potatoes.

7. Supporting local providers supports responsible land development. When you buy local, you give those who own the land, such as farms and pastures, an economic reason to stay undeveloped. Wouldn’t you rather have greenspace than another fast food chain or coffee shop?

Simplify Your Holidays

Do you plan ahead for the holidays, or do they sneak up on you every year? The holiday season can be a lot more fun and a lot less stressful by planning ahead and keeping things simple and organized.

  • Create a holiday notebook, or if you already have a household control notebook a la Flylady, create a special holiday section in it. Photocopy your favorite holiday recipes and keep them in there, so you don’t have to scramble every year looking for those special family recipes. You can also keep a copy of your gift list in your notebook, as well as To-Do lists, directions to those holiday parties, etc. Here’s a great place to get one started:
  • Create a gift spreadsheet. One of my lifesavers is an Excel spreadsheet where I track and organize my holiday gift giving. I create a new worksheet each year (all in the same document) and I list who I need to get gifts for down the left side. I have columns across the top for my budget for that person, what to give, whether I’ve bought/ordered/made it, how much it actually cost, whether it’s been wrapped or shipped, and notes to myself. The budget and actual cost columns add themselves up automatically using the SUM function, so I can always glance down and see how I’m doing on budget. I also have an area set aside at the bottom of the list for my shopping list and gift ideas. I’ve been doing this since 2003, so I can look back and see what I got someone for the last several years, ensuring I don’t duplicate myself!
  • Mark your calendar now for your gift purchasing “deadline” and your mailing “deadline” if you have to mail gifts. Planning ahead saves you from costly last-minute binge-buying and ensures your gifts arrive on time.
  • Catalog or online shopping? If you do any of your shopping online or by catalog, it’s time to get going. Keep in mind shipping time and charges, and give yourself some leeway in case your items are canceled or backordered.
  • Wrap as you go. Instead of saving all the gift wrapping until the last minute, set aside a few evenings here and there to wrap some gifts. Keep your wrapping paper, bags, tissue paper, scissors, tape, ribbons and gift tags handy and organized in a box or plastic organizer so you can find what you need easily.
  • Do you do holiday cards? Now is the time to start working on the holiday letter, and if you’re taking photos for that holiday card, make the appointment and get it on your calendar.
  • Stock up on some easy entertaining supplies for unplanned or last-minute guests. Tidy up your guest room, keep the bathroom clean and stocked, and fill your pantry with easy appetizers like chips and salsa, crackers and summer sausage, hot cocoa, ciders, etc. There are also some yummy snacks and treats that can be kept in your freezer and heated up as needed for drop-in guests.
  • Enjoy yourself. Simplify the holidays where you can, organize the rest, and vow to have fun with friends and family this year.