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Assisting your patients with a food diary and Nutrition Coaching can make all the difference to their health.

“Your patients do need to change the way they eat,” explains Jackie Furlong, author and presenter of the Complete Course on  Nutrition Coaching offered by Ulan Nutritional Systems. “Most patients find it hard to make those changes.” 

Holding public education workshops or online events that answer the typical question heard in a nutrition-oriented practice of “What do I eat?” could be not only a great way to educate your patients or find new ones, but it is also a valuable service to your community.

Most “fresh” produce in the stores has come a long way. So, it is not truly fresh.  Here are some of the benefits of eating locally-grown produce that you can include in your educational workshops and coaching sessions with patients:

The Freshness Factor:  Imagine sinking your teeth into a ripe, juicy tomato plucked from the vine just hours ago. That’s the magic of eating local food! When you buy fruits and veggies from nearby farms, you get produce that hasn’t traveled thousands of miles to reach your plate. It’s fresh, it’s vibrant, and it’s bursting with flavor.

Nutrient Powerhouse: Did you know that the longer your food sits on a truck or in a warehouse, the more nutrients it loses? But when you buy locally grown food, you get the good stuff at its peak. Those carrots? Packed with vitamin A. Those leafy greens? Loaded with antioxidants. Eating local means you’re fueling your body with maximum nutrition.

Eating Locally Grown Food in Season: When you opt for locally grown food that’s in season, you’re not just getting the freshest, tastiest produce – you’re also tapping into nature’s rhythm. Eating with the seasons means enjoying fruits and veggies when they’re at their peak, both in flavor and nutritional value. Think about it: those juicy strawberries taste even sweeter when you know they’re in season, picked at the perfect moment of ripeness. Plus, eating in season often means you’re supporting sustainable farming practices, as crops are more likely to thrive naturally without excessive reliance on artificial inputs like pesticides or fertilizers.

Locally Grown Saves Energy: Here’s a fun fact: the average plate of food in the United States travels about 1,500 miles to get from farm to fork. But when you choose locally grown food, you’re slashing those food miles and reducing the carbon footprint of your meals. Instead of trucking produce across the country (or even across the world), you’re supporting a more efficient food system that relies on shorter transportation distances. Plus, local farmers often use less energy-intensive methods of production, like smaller-scale farming and fewer chemical inputs, further lowering the environmental impact of your food choices.

Local food supports the local economy. The money that is spent with local farmers and growers stays close to home and is reinvested with businesses and services in your community.

Local food benefits the environment. By purchasing locally grown foods you help maintain farmland and green and/or open space in your community.

Local foods promote a safer food supply. The more steps there are between you and your food’s source the more chances there are for contamination. Food grown in distant locations has the potential for food safety issues at harvesting, washing, shipping, and distribution.

Local growers can tell you how the food was grown. You can ask what practices they use to raise and harvest the crops. When you know where your food comes from and who grew it, you know a lot more about that food.

Supporting Your Community: When you buy from nearby farmers, you’re not just getting delicious food – you’re also supporting your community. You’re helping small-scale farmers thrive, keeping money in your local economy, and reducing the environmental footprint of your meals. It’s a win-win-win situation!

“We recently discovered a local produce market in our town that buys from local farmers,” says Pat, a resident of Clearwater, Florida.  “We now get the freshest, organically grown produce and we’re saving money. So, we win, and the farmers win.”

Where to Buy Locally Grown Food:

There are plenty of places to find fresh, local fare right in your community. Farmer’s markets are a fantastic option, offering a vibrant array of seasonal produce, hand-made goods, and direct access to the folks who grew your food. Many grocery stores also feature local sections or labels, making it easy to identify homegrown treasures amidst the sea of options. 

And don’t forget about community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs, where you can subscribe to receive a weekly box of farm-fresh goodies straight from the source. 

So, the next time you’re at the farmer’s market or browsing your local grocery store, keep an eye out for signs pointing to homegrown treasures. Pass the information on to your patients. Their taste buds and their bodies will thank you for it!

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