(MCT)—I have to say, it was a delightful dinner. A close friend of mine and I recently went to a true farm-to-fork restaurant in Uptown Charlotte, N.C. We enjoyed the mouth watering, locally grown and locally raised foods. From a seasonal salad to the sweet potato burger I’ve been raving about ever since — the selection and the tastes were truly divine. There I was at the Harvest Moon Grille enjoying the good food and good conversation and also feeling good about supporting a local business and the local movement. “Going local” is one of the most important ways to Do Your Part because it strengthens our planet and our local communities.
This movement is quickly becoming mainstream. The restaurant I mentioned? It’s one block away from Bank of America headquarters. It also sources all its food from farms within 100 miles. That can be mind-boggling when you stop and think that the average piece of produce travels 1,500 miles to get to your table. One of the main reasons produce travels so far these days, is that most Americans no longer eat what’s in season where we live. Instead, we are accustomed to finding nearly every fruit and vegetable we can imagine right at our grocery store. However, most grocery stores now have a “locally grown” section filled with seasonal goodness from nearby farms. And don’t forget that your local farmers’ markets and produce stands are also filled with seasonal and locally grown foods. Eating seasonally is usually much less expensive than buying foods that have traveled the globe. Visit DoYourPart.com/Columns for seasonal guides and information on finding farmer’s markets and farm to fork restaurants near you.
The local movement has to do with much more than the foods we eat and the local farms we work to support. It’s also about supporting the smaller businesses in your community. Study after study shows that local, independent businesses put more money right back into your community than the national chains do. And research shows these local business owners also support local charities, sports teams, and other community groups dramatically more than the big chains. When we support these businesses, we are doing our part to keep our local economy thriving. We are also supporting the feeling of community where we live.
Changing our mindsets will take time. However, when we start to ask ourselves the tough question about where our food and our products truly come from, we can start to make changes in how we operate. Basically, we need to start putting the power of our dollars right where we live. When you Do Your Part to eat locally and shop locally, your community will be stronger for it.
Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, eco-expert and author of “Do Your Part: A practical guide for everyday green living” available at DoYourPart.com.
Distributed by MCT Information Services.