April is Eat Local month and we love supporting our local farmers and locally sourced restaurants. Although the eating choices in Charleston are endless, eating local may not be as infinite. Today, we live in a world where almost anything we want as consumers is within reach. A fresh lobster dinner can be shipped overnight straight to our door step if we so wish. While such having access is convenient, the benefits may not ring true for local farmers, small business owners, and even our planet.
For example, imagine having a shrimp dinner in Illinois. This shrimp did not come out of the Illinois River. Instead, it traveled hundreds of miles before it landed on your dinner plate. When you think deeper into this meal you may find that the shrimp was mass harvested, packaged multiple times and transported using multiple methods. While our jobs are truly to keep things as simple and easy for our clients as possible it terms of food, it is always good to remind you of the benefits of consuming products that are produced near your own community. In the end, you'll most likely get a superior product, reduce your carbon foot print and support local businesses.
Here are some ways you can eat local while supporting your community:
Opting to buy grocery items such as fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, bread and many other locally grown products is an easy way to buy and eat local. Buying from a local farmer ensures freshness and likely contains more nutrients than commercially grown products. There are even some health benefits from certain local products such as honey.
Locally Sourced Restaurants
I encourage you to ask questions and find wha restaurants near you source their food from local farmers. There are many here in Charleston, SC that are willing to buy local foods and follow this “Farm-To-Table” approach. These restaurants typically have more whole food options, leading them to have more healthy food options to choose from. It is important to remember that even if you live near the ocean, that doesn’t mean that the fish you are eating was sourced from your own region. Don’t be afraid to ask the waiter questions about where the menu was sourced as this has become acceptable restaurant etiquette.
While there are many perks to eating local, the concept also keeps more money in your local economy. Supporting small businesses allows them to keep their doors open, feed their families, and also provide more choices for consumers. So, next time you brainstorm where your next meal is coming from, choose to eat local!
Cheyenne is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist located in the Charleston, SC area.