SPECIAL REPORT: Many benefits to buying locally grown produce

SPECIAL REPORT: Many benefits to buying locally grown produce
(Source: Dakota Watson)

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - We've all heard that eating your fruits and veggies is good for you, but not all of them are equally healthy.

Eating locally grown produce not only has numerous health benefits, but many people say it's not bad on the taste buds either.

Burt Tietje owns a farm in Southwest Louisiana and says so many of the health benefits come from how fresh the produce is.

"Freshness is a huge key to what we deliver at the farmer's market," said Tietje. "People buy my lettuce, and they say, 'Man I forgot it in the back of my refrigerator and two weeks later I pulled it out and it was still perfect.' The stuff you bought at the store was picked two weeks ago, and it's just getting to you at the end of its shelf life. Whereas what you get here tastes better because it's fresh, and it's got all those health benefits, it hasn't lost its nutrients while it has sat through the supply chain."

Tietje says a huge reason for that is because of how quickly he gets it to your table.

"Our supply chain goes from my hands, my dirt, to you in the market," said Tietje. "There's no sitting in a washing shed some place, there's no time spent in a cooler waiting for a truck to pick it up to transport it 500 miles to go into another warehouse before it goes into the store where you buy it. My supply chain is direct from farmer to consumer."

That freshness is why LSUAg Center dietitian Shatonia McCarty backs up the health benefits claim and says they can do way more for you than you think.

"Fresh fruits and vegetables are low in fat, they are low in calories, and they also help prevent chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, some forms of cancer, diabetes, and also it helps maintain your weight," McCarty said.

If you're thinking you have to go out to farmer's market to find these healthy greens, you actually don't.

Some restaurant owners, like Andrew Green intentionally buy locally grown produce and says the health benefits aren't even the main reason.

"We're using local ingredients to let the ingredients shine, to let the ingredients do the talking," Green said.

While Tietje admits organic produce can cost a little more money, keeping the money in town is a huge reason why some shoppers, like Gillian Turek, buy his produce.

"I like to be able to support the people and I go to a couple of farmer's markets and I've made connections and friendships with people and it's nice to be able to support them and their business and help them and know that it's going to continue to stay here," said Turek.

Next time you need to restock the fridge, think about your health, your local economy, and your taste buds, and let the produce do the talking.

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