It’s no secret that fruit and vegetables are good for you because they are filled with many beneficial nutrients, but did you know that produce that is locally grown is even better for you than what you may typically find in the supermarket?
Generally, the produce you buy at most supermarkets travels many miles to reach the store shelves and often sits for a period of time in a warehouse somewhere before ever being made available for purchase. In addition, non-locally grown food is often picked before it is fully ripened so that it can reach its destination before it goes bad.
The fact that it is picked before it’s ripe and then sits for a period of time between being picked and making its way onto the store shelves for purchase decreases its nutritional value. While it is still nutritious to eat, you aren’t getting the full impact of nutrition that you would if you were eating the locally-grown variety.
While fruit and vegetables are essential for maintaining a healthy body, they are also essential for keeping your eyes and your vision healthy. Incorporating fruit and vegetables into your daily diet can decrease your risk of developing eye and vision problems like glaucoma, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, dry eyes, night blindness, and many others. This is important for adults as well as children, since starting a nutritious diet early can prevent future problems.
Due to the fact that there are so many different varieties of fruit and vegetables, it can be hard to determine which ones contain the most beneficial nutrients for your eye health, and what makes it even harder is that fresh produce does not contain nutrition labels. To make it easier for you to choose the best fruit and vegetables to eat to keep your eyes healthy, listed below is a quick breakdown of the eye-healthy nutrients and in what foods you can find the highest source of those nutrients.
Beta-carotene – Found in carrots, spinach, butternut squash, kale, and sweet potatoes. Beta-carotenes help the eyes by reducing inflammation, improving dry eyes, and when combined with other nutrients such as zinc and vitamins C and E, it can help to reduce the risk for developing macular degeneration.
Bioflavonoids – You can find bioflavonoids in citrus fruits like lemons and oranges, as well as in cherries, blueberries, and bilberries. Bioflavonoids help to protect against macular degeneration and cataracts.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin – You’ll find a large source of these nutrients in squash, kale, spinach, collard greens, and turnip greens. These are also great for decreasing your risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.
Vitamin C – Found in red and green bell peppers, strawberries, kale, broccoli, cantaloupe, and oranges, Vitamin C also protects against macular degeneration and cataracts.
This is by no means an extensive list of the nutrients that are healthy for the eyes or of the foods they are found in, but it will provide you with a starting point for choosing locally-grown fruit and vegetables that will have the most benefit to your eyes and vision health.
Other Reasons to Buy Locally Grown Food
Aside from benefitting your eyes and your overall health, there are many other benefits to buying locally grown food. The first reason is that fruit and vegetables that are locally grown taste much better than those that aren’t. Locally grown food is truly fresh and that makes a big difference in the taste that the food has.
When you purchase produce, such as lettuce, from a supermarket, it has usually been flown or trucked in from hundreds or even thousands of miles away and it has probably been at least a week since it was picked. Whereas if you were to buy lettuce from a produce stand or farmers’ market in your area, chances are the lettuce was picked that same day or the day before and the difference in the freshness can really be noticed when you do a taste test to compare the two.
You support your local community’s economy when you purchase food that has been grown locally. The money that you pay to the farmers’ market or produce stand is directly benefiting the farmers and growers in your area and that money is then put back into the community’s businesses and services.
Buying locally has a big impact on the environment as well. Think about the carbon footprint that is left behind when food is thrown on a truck and transported from one side of the country to the other. Then consider the carbon footprint that is left when the produce is transported from one side of your town to the other. There’s a big difference there.
You have the ability to ask the local farmers and growers how they raise and harvest their crops so you know exactly what you are putting into your body. You can ask them whether or not they use pesticides or other chemicals when they’re growing their crops. Being able to speak one on one with the farmer will allow you to know more about the food you’re buying and eating.
Alternative When Buying Locally Is Not Possible
It’s possible in some areas that locally grown foods are not available for one reason or another, but if you still want to take advantage of the benefits to your vision and eye health that fresh food offers, there’s nothing to stop you from attempting to grow your own fruit and vegetables.
While there may be some types of foods that just aren’t feasible to grow in your backyard or in your home, you can still grow the ones that your environment allows and take advantage of the abundance of health benefits they have to offer while getting the rest of the nutrients you need from the produce at the supermarket.