The Importance of Eating Locally
We’ve written previous posts on how to be more mindful with your food and learning to listen to your body. What we haven’t fully explored is how eating more mindfully also includes being more aware of where your food comes from! Eating seasonally is a big one for sure, but today we’re focusing on how to eat based on your surroundings.
Every country, even down to the region and state, is naturally primed to grow certain foods. For example, P’s hometown in New Jersey is one of the blueberry capitals of the world where the soil has been perfected over many years to grow the ripest blueberries.
This is why you’ve likely heard that the best olive oil comes from the Mediterranean, the best oranges come from Florida and California, and the best tropical fruits like papaya and pineapple grow in, well, tropical climates.
The foods that grow best in different parts of the world are ultimately what led to the creation of regional cuisines. Before there was the ability to import crops from the other side of the world, cultures ate off the land that surrounded them, meaning their meals were extremely nutrient-dense and fresh no matter whether they were eating fruit salad in Hawaii or lentil dal in Dubai.
All that to say, you should always take full advantage of the local foods wherever you are in the world, and especially when you’re traveling. What better way to live as the locals do than to eat like them?
Even if there are certain foods you’re hesitant to eat back home, keep an open mind about trying them in places where they’re likely to be fresher. Remember, the fresher and more organically grown or farmed, the better they taste— you never know what you might actually like! RK used to be grossed out by chicken from the U.S., but when they went on their honeymoon to Africa, she gave the local chicken a shot and could truly taste such a difference.
Poultry aside, even the soil in Africa was a completely different color. which speaks to the mineral density of the soil that most farms in the U.S. unfortunately lack. This made even the avocados look and taste different (even more delicious, if you can imagine!)
With the rise of gluten intolerances in America, breads and whole grains are given a bad rep, but that’s largely due to the quality of those grains. Ever wonder why Europeans don’t seem to fuss so much about pasta and bread? In Italy, all pastas and breads are freshly homemade, without added sugars (yes, there is likely sugar in your go-to supermarket bread brand) and the grains may as well be of a different species, since they haven’t been chemically altered or processed to produce quantity over quality.
We mentioned the tropics earlier, so let’s circle back to that. Being in a tropical region is the perfect opportunity to indulge in rare and exotic fruits that you won’t see in your grocery stores or farmers markets back home. The same can be said for locally caught fish, which is obviously going to be much fresher when you live on the coast.
At the end of the day, no matter where you are or what kind of dietary lifestyle you ascribe to, you can’t go wrong when you eat based on your soundings. That is the absolute best way to ensure you’re getting food that is fresh and packed with micronutrients, as it did not have to travel far or go through processing with preservatives or harsh conditions to get to your plate.