It is easy to understand that what we eat is who we are. The food we choose to eat and more importantly, where we buy it from determines its nutritional value and how successful we are at staying healthy1,2. Of course, successful weight management is another huge benefit of being selective about what food we buy and from where we buy it.2
Current estimates indicate that 10% to 30% of the population between the ages of 5 and 17 years in India is overweight or obese.3 While there are several factors contributing to such increasing levels of obesity, the few that are noteworthy include lack of access to fresh produce and easy access to high-calorie, processed food.4,5
What’s the link between local produce and weight management?
Here is what Dr. Tenley Albright, director of MIT’s Collaborative Initiatives program, has to say, “To end obesity, we need to produce healthier, more accessible, more affordable food.” Only 1% to 2% of Americans consume locally produced food. This would mean an alarming number of Americans are consuming food that is processed4. Processed food often has preservatives that make it fattening.5
In India too, the consumption of popular western-style foods and beverages is on the rise. A study of Indian children and youth in Southern India suggested that families with higher socioeconomic status may adopt a western style of food consumption. This increases their caloric intake without contributing much to their health.6
Today, MIT and Columbia researchers along with food-industry leaders believe that increasing regional food consumption can address the obesity epidemic that now afflicts the entire country.4
What is so special about local produce?
Local produce has the following advantages:2,7,8
- It is generally less expensive as it is seasonal and you can enjoy it when it is most abundant.2
- It is regional; the USDA says the produce that comes within 50 miles of where one lives can be considered as local. This is better for the environment as foods that are shipped for thousands of miles leave a big carbon footprint that is detrimental to the environment.7,8
- There is less chance of contamination as there is less distance between the source of your food and your table.8
- Supports your local economy as the money spent locally builds your local economy and more of it goes to the pockets of those raising and growing the foods.8
Health benefits of local produce
In addition to the economic and environmental benefits, here is how consuming local produce contributes to effective weight management.
- It is fresh and flavourful, and nutrient-dense.2,8
- Eating local food gives you a greater variety of foods, which is healthier.2
- Local produce consists mainly of freshly grown fruits and vegetables. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is more satiating, making it an essential part of weight management2
- Buying locally means consuming seasonal produce that is not artificially ripened, making it a better and safer food choice8
Selecting food that’s fresh and nutrient-rich is a smart choice for weight management. Eat local; stay lean.
- Lawrence Robinson, Jeanne Segal Ph.D., and Robert Segal, M.A. Healthy Eating. [Internet]. [updated June 2019; cited 2019 Dec 17]. Available from: https://www.helpguide.org/.
- Indiana State Personnel Department. Eating local produce has great benefits. The Torch. 2012 Jul;9(7):1-2. Available from: https://www.in.gov/spd/files/July12.pdf.
- Kalra S, Unnikrishnan AG. Obesity in India: The weight of the nation. J Med Nutr Nutraceut. 2012;1(1):37-41.
- MIT News. Good food nation [Internet]. [cited 2019 Dec 17]. Available from: http://news.mit.edu/2009/foodshed.
- The W NIH. Eating highly processed foods linked to weight gain [Internet]. [updated 2019 May 21; cited 2019 Dec 17]. Available from:https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/eating-highly-processed-foods-linked-weight-gain.
- Harrell M, Medina J, Greene-Cramer B, Sharma SV, Arora M, Nazar G. Understanding eating behaviors of New Dehli’s youth. Journal of Applied Research on Children. 2015;6(2):8.
- Consumer Reports. Farmers market produce: local vs. organic [Internet]. [updated 2018 July 12; cited 2019 Dec 17]. Available from: https://www.consumerreports.org/fruits-vegetables/farmers-market-produce-local-vs-organic/.
- The Whole U. The benefits of eating locally grown foods [Internet]. [cited 2019 Dec 17]. Available from: https://wholeu.uw.edu/2016/04/29/the-benefits-of-eating-locally-grown-foods/.