You all know the food crazes of the decade—slow, organic, natural, additive-free, preservative-free, pesticide and fertilizer-free food is “in” while fast, conventional, preservative and additive-packed food is “out.” The “in’s” and “out’s” of food trends are often governed by what’s healthier, more sustainable, and ultimately what makes us, as consumers, feel safer. Consequently, the most recent food trend these days is locally sourced food and its promise of quality, freshness, and vital nourishment.
But the real question is …
Is there any truth to this trend?
The answer, Absolutely!
A recent study, by Harvard Medical School, found that locally sourced produce might actually be more nutritious than your average shipped produce. Local produce is picked at its peak freshness and ripeness because it is often sold within the first 24 hours. On the other hand, farmers that ship their produce long distances, harvest their produce before it’s ripe in order to ensure freshness at a later date. The study found that produce tends to lose nutrients during its long transport and is, therefore, less nutritious if it ripens on the truck as opposed to ripening on the vine. Harvard estimates that non-local produce travels over 1,500 miles on average from farm to market – that’s quite a long drive for the produce and plenty of time for the produce to lose nutrients.
Additionally, farming techniques and practices also affect the nutritional quality of produce. First, it is important to note that when farmers pick out their produce varieties, farmers that ship their produce tend to favor ship-ability and beauty, while farmers that grow local produce favor taste, nutrition, and diversity. Furthermore, small, local farms use agricultural practices that keep their soil fertile, healthy, and diverse. Oftentimes, these small, local farms will grow many different crop varieties and rotate them to obtain a longer, fuller harvest season and to replenish their soil—crops grown in healthy soil have deeper, healthier roots that can draw more nutrients from the soil. Thus, by choosing locally sourced produce you are increasing your chances of a more nutrient dense fruit or veggie.
At Fruitive, we give you that locally sourced option and try to source locally as often as possible. One of our favorite relationships is the one we have with New Earth Farm in Virginia Beach. This week we are sourcing curly kale, but the next week will probably be a bit different. Started by “Farmer John” Wilson in 1995, New Earth Farm has been using organic practices for over 15 years and is in the process of becoming officially certified by the USDA. In other words, they are great!
Moreover, our wheatgrass, for our delicious Sweetgrass juice, is also locally sourced! But, because we live in the mid-Atlantic region, not everything can be sourced locally. For example, our acai berries come from Brazil, more specifically, the Amazon, and our pitaya comes from Mexico; however, to ensure that the product meets our standards, the non-local fruit is harvested and frozen immediately to ensure quality, freshness, and that all the nutrients stay intact! Bruce Rozeboom, our co-founder and produce sourcer, chimes in, “we continually strive to source the cleanest, highest-quality ingredients for every product that we produce”– which means we only source the best.
Once again, we try to source as much locally as we can, but, there are always pros and cons to every situation. Locally sourced produce may be more nutritious, but it’s value and the practices that go into the production may be less feasible than larger companies using cheap fertilizers, pesticides, and machines. Plus, because of its prime ripeness, local produce usually needs to be eaten sooner rather than later.