Local fruit and veg is fresher, healthier and tastes better.

I signed up for my first local veg box when I was at the University of Sussex about 20 years ago. Getting a veg box opened up a whole new world of cooking for me, as before that I don’t think I’d ever eaten things like celeriac or kohlrabi, or even beetroot or squash. Since then I’ve set up and run a farmers market and veg box scheme in Hastings, and also worked with CSA farms around the country. Of course I still eat some imported fruit and veg, like bananas, oranges or avocados. But most of the vegetables I eat are from local farms, like Shillingford Organics.

Some of the benefits of local fruit and vegetables are:

  • Better quality – if you buy local veg via a box scheme or farmer’s market it’s often been picked within the last day or two, so is much fresher and tastes better. If you are buying local fruit and veg then you’re eating produce when it’s in season and at it’s best in terms of taste and freshness.
  • More nutritious – fruit and vegetables start to lose vitamins and minerals as soon as they’re picked, so the fresher they are, the more nutrients they contain. Local food, unlike some imported produce, is also allowed to ripen fully, so has the highest nutritional content possible.
  • Fewer food miles – if you buy local food direct from farmers it will have travelled a much shorter distance to get to your plate, reducing the need for fossil fuel transportation.
  • Less plastic packaging – local farmers generally use far less plastic packaging than bigger outlets, and only use it when really necessary to keep food fresh or stop it getting damaged.
  • More variety – small local farms often grow a much wider range of fruit and vegetables, as well as more unusual varieties.
  • Supporting the local economy – buying direct from local farmers or food hubs means that most of the money you spend is going to the people who produced your food.
  • Good value for money – there’s a common misconception that local food is more expensive. But whilst small farms can’t compete on staples like carrots or potatoes, if you’re comparing like for like, and buying seasonal produce, then it’s often the same price or cheaper than in supermarkets.
  • Local food creates community and connection – if you buy from local farms you know where your food comes from and can often go and visit the farm where it’s grown. Many farms run events for the local community, and if it’s a CSA farm you may also be able to volunteer and get involved in growing or harvesting.