What is local?
The term is not a legal definition, and can mean different things to different people. Local food is a concept that encourages a diet of food grown as close to home as possible. Local can be thought of in concentric circles, beginning in the home garden, then moving to the broader community, then the region, then the province, then the country, then beyond. Of course, our geography does not often fit into perfect circles, so local regions are often defined by landscapes, watersheds, trade relationships, and institutional boundaries.
How you define local is up to you, but you can also use the three principles of sustainability to help you:
- Will the money you spend on your food be circulated in the community?
- Does the farmer live and shop in your region?
- Was the product processed and handled by local workers?
- Is the product free from unfair subsidies?
- Does the food preserve a heritage value in your community?
- Were farm workers supported by healthy workplaces and fair wages?
- Did you meet the person who grew the food?
- Are you and your family excited and inspired by the food?
- How far did the food have to travel to reach you?
- Is it wrapped in wasteful packaging?
- Were pesticides and destructive agricultural practices used?
- Is the food genetically modified?
- Was the food grown or raised in its natural environment?
By defining your own concept of local, you can make purchasing decisions that yield the biggest benefit to you and your community.
Your best strategy is to learn more about the types of food that are seasonally available in your region. Download our Seasonal Availability Chart for easy reference. Learn how to prepare local food products by reading through our Food Fact Sheets. Find out who is farming in your region by browsing our Local Food Directory and get to know more about many local farm operations by browsing of Farm of the Month profiles. Make efforts to prepare more meals at home, and if you must eat out, select restaurants with strong relationships with local farms.
There are many tools on this website to support you, and we are always looking for feedback and volunteers to create more content to support your community in thinking healthy, thinking fresh, and thinking local!