The farmers market on a sunny Saturday morning is one of my favorite scenes—the crowded tables full of hand-picked produce from local growers; jars of homemade jams and jellies carefully displayed next to loaves of homemade sourdough; crowds of people, young to old, browsing the tents, paying in cash, and shoving purchased products in a reusable shopping bag.

The farm-to-table, “eat local” movement has undoubtedly gained momentum over the past several years, and rightly so. The pros greatly outweigh the cons, and truth be told, there’s no downside to eating local other than the occasional inflated price tag, which I’ll discuss below. Let’s take a look at a few of the benefits of choosing local:

1. Locally grown food is usually harvested and sold within a twenty-four to forty-eight-hour window, which makes it fresher and more flavorful than grocery store food. This quick harvest-to-consumer turnaround enhances the nutrient density of food, particularly vitamins A, C, and E. Supermarket produce is sometimes collected days to weeks before it meets the shelf. The slow delivery process can reduce the freshness of some foods and result in lower nutrient availability.

2. You support local farmers and your community. When you shop from a big-box grocery store, part of your payment goes to large companies to deliver and mass produce. When you buy from a farmers market or locally owned shop, you support the farmers within your community, which allows them to continue to harvest and supply you with the freshest, most nutrient-dense food. Yes, the price to buy local is usually a bit more expensive and for good reason. Small farmers typically require more expensive raw materials, and they grow and sell less than large-scale farmers. The price tag sometimes goes up so they can cover basic expenses and make a profit.

3. It’s easier to eat in-season ingredients when you shop local. Small, local farmers are restricted by the seasons in ways big-box grocers are not. For example, you might notice foods like berries, tomatoes, and zucchini during the summer months and foods like squash, parsnips, and radishes during the colder months. Eating in-season helps diversify your plate and enhances the flavor and nutrient-density of food. Plus, when it comes to produce, eating in-season keeps money in your pocket as prices increase for out-of-season ingredients.

The “eat local” movement, albeit trendy, offers many benefits beyond supporting the small family farmer. It’s healthier, more sustainable, and supportive of your local economy. Most importantly, eating local gives you the opportunity to connect with food by knowing who’s growing it, where it’s grown, and how it’s harvested and cared for from farm-to-table.

Tori Eaton is a registered dietitian nutritionist who grew up in mid-Missouri. Tori promotes her passion for women’s health and building a support community in a world full of nutrition confusion through her blog and social media. Visit