"Farm-to-table" has become a buzzword that can be seen on restaurant menus and grocery store displays. At its heart, "farm-to-table" means eating food that is grown locally. For many consumers in our region, farm-to-table means shopping for food at the farmers market or joining a community sourced agriculture (CSA) harvest box program. But why get out of bed early Saturday morning to get to a farmers market or battle afternoon traffic to pick up a CSA box? Here are a few reasons:

Fewer transport miles equals fewer emissions

According to the WorldWatch Institute, ingredients in an average American meal travel 1,500 to 2,500 miles from where they are grown to the table, while locally sourced food travels an average of 44.6 miles. Conventional food distribution systems use 4 to 17 times more petroleum products and emit 5 to 17 times more carbon dioxide than locally produced ingredients. By buying local, you help preserve the environment.

Buying locally supports your community

According to Local Harvest, on average, only 18 cents of every dollar spent on produce at the supermarket goes to the farmer. The remaining 82 cents goes to transportation, packaging and marketing. By buying local, you help local farms survive, protect local ecosystems and strengthen communities.

Connection

Even though we communicate with others on our cell phones and through social media, it is often difficult to make meaningful connections. Talking face-to-face with the person who grew your food is one way to reconnect with your environment.

So get out of bed a bit earlier this weekend and visit your local farmers market. Link up with your food chain. You will help your community and the planet, while also pleasing your palate.

— By Terese Wallace, Bastyr dietetic intern, and Amy Frasieur, MS, RD, core faculty in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.