You probably hear this over and over “buy local, buy seasonal” but do you know why? I feel like the reasons are not communicated clearly enough for us to get it and do it. So, let me share a quick story that taught be a life lesson.
You might not know that I spent 22 years of my life in Asia, of which 17 were in Malaysia; a lush, tropical country squeezed in between Thailand and Singapore. As an avid runner, every Saturday afternoon I would go cross-country running with a great group and we would trail blaze the jungles, palm estates, rubber plantations, papaya and pineapple orchards, rivers and local villages.
Often, I would convince my visiting foreign friends to come along; after all, this is not something Lonely Planet would tell you about.
The problem was: every time I brought a friend, he or she would develop a severe infection from a simple skin cut. Each ended up, within hours, with severe swelling and 2 weeks of … antibiotics.
We, the regulars were full of cuts after every run, so what was that all about? Feeling very guilty (one friend was visiting Malaysia to complete a big company merger and they ended up cancelling it as he was too sick to work…), confused and somewhat curious, I contacted a naturopath and what she told me became a life lesson…
She said that anybody who arrives into a new environment, especially the further away it is, needs time to build up a sufficient level of antibodies in their immune system so they are strong enough to fight off any local pathogens.
She asked me NOT to bring any friends for runs unless your have been in the country for 2 weeks, drank local water and ate local fresh food, especially vegetables.
I never forgot this story and would say the same to you: eat LOCAL food to build a stronger immune system. This is one way to build up a stronger immune system to fight off all the allergies and diseases we see so many folks struggling with today.
So, if you live in the US, I understand if papayas from Costa Rica and manuka honey with South Africa have a great appeal. But really, you will do yourself a bigger favor by eating local in-season fruit and buying the less sexy local honey that will provide more meaningful enzymes. Treat a papaya as an occasional treat, not staple food.
To eat great local food, don’t limit yourself to Whole Foods or local farmers’ markets (which are great but not everybody has the time for them). Have you heard of farmer-to-table initiatives or “veggie box” or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)?
These are farms, typically in a 500-mile radius from you who grow amazing, organic, sustainable food; vegetables, meat and dairy from grass-fed animals. Typically, they are 40-50% cheaper than Whole Foods. They will have a box ready for you; size, frequency and the delivery mode vary depending on your need and the farm. Check them out.
You can find a CSA closest to you on www.localharvest.com or www.justfood.org, just enter your zip code.
Eat local, eat organic, get strong, be well.
Acquaintance with an unusual cuisine can be tempting, but also frightening, especially if you are planning a trip with a child. I would like the food to sink into the soul immediately and be remembered forever.