We’ve all probably heard of the economic and environmental benefits of eating local foods, but did you know that there are health benefits too? Locally sourced food is fresher, healthier, and tastes better and here’s why.
The fresher the food, the higher the nutrient content. When produce travels across the country, or even the World, the time spent in transit means it loses some nutrients and incurs more spoilage. Some nutritional value is lost in the packaging process, some is lost due to factors like artificial lights, temperature changes, and MAP. (artificial, edible packaging. Yuck.)
Have you ever compared a fresh picked strawberry to a store bought one? Produce consumed immediately after harvest is not only healthier, but tastier too. Produce harvested for transit is picked earlier than it is ripe so as not to spoil during transportation and packaging. Produced meant for local markets is allowed to ripen longer and picked at its prime ripeness for the best possible taste and full nutritional value.
Eating local foods also means eating more of what is in season. In Florida we are fortunate to have many delicious fruits and vegetables available year-round. Finding out what is in season and eating accordingly will help to keep your diet fresh, healthy, and full of variety.
Right now in Florida vegetables like bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, and lettuce are in season. And fruits like strawberries, papaya, orange, and grapefruit. www.freshfromflorida.com is a great resource for this information.
Where do you find local grown produce? Not much is grown here on ‘the rock,’ as our islands are appropriately nicknamed, but just off the 18-mile stretch in homestead is an area called the Redlands that still produces large amounts of produce for the state of Florida.
Here’s a list of where you can buy locally grown produce:
- Farmers Markets: Buy fresh, local produce directly from the Farm at one of two weekly Farmers Markets in Islamorada. Fridays from 10am to 3pm at mm 90 – next to Old Tavernier restaurant – Ocean side. And Mondays from 9am to 2pm – Southwinds Park at mm 82 – Ocean side
- Open Markets: There is a third party, open-air market at mm 101 next to the Dollar Tree in Key Largo that sells fresh produce from sun up to sundown 7 days. Many of their items are imported just like at the grocery store, but they offer a large selection of locally grown, seasonal food as well. Just ask!
- Buying Club: Join Annie’s Buying Club for a box of organic produce ready for pick up once a week. Locations in Islamorada and Key Largo. There are many box options available weekly. Select the “Florida Box” for what’s local and fresh this week. www.anniesbuyingclub.com
- Grocery Stores: Just check the label of your produce to see where it’s from. You can find lots of fresh, Florida options. And some food that you will no longer think of as fresh once you see how far it’s travelled.
I wish I could give you a list of the restaurants using locally sourced ingredients to create the freshest and healthiest dishes available for you, (seafood not included) but I have searched and found no such information. So, I have a challenge for you. Next time you are eating at your favorite restaurant, ask if they use any locally grow, Florida fruits and vegetables in their dishes. If the answer is yes, great, if the answer is no, ask why not and let us know your findings at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will make a list of where we can eat healthy and fresh in the Upper Keys!
Feature written by Seychelle-Ocean Child, Professional Standup Paddleboarder, SUP Yogi, Adventurer
I was born and raised in the Florida Keys and have always had a deep connection to the water. I am an internationally competitive SUP racer and current long distance World Record holder in SUP. I began teaching Yoga on standup paddleboards in 2013. With my extensive knowledge of the sport of SUP and 13 years studying Yoga, I have developed a unique curriculum for teaching safe and FUN yoga classes on the water. I also lead SUP Fitness and Private SUP coaching lessons for beginner to advanced paddlers, as well as lead SUP Yoga teacher trainings. My classes on and off the board are a blend of the diverse styles I have practiced and a journey to cultivate strength, energy, balance, and bliss within our bodies.
I am passionate about life, fitness, nutrition, love, and being happy. I believe that anything is possible. My mantra is “Breathe and Smile”
It is my life’s dream to share this adventure with you.
Blessings and Gratitude,