ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA9) -- After a summer of funnel cakes and fried Oreos, it's not only back to school, but back to eating healthy again! But did you know eating healthy means eating locally?
What is eating locally?
That's what we asked Pamela Hess, the Executive Director of the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture located in Alexandria, Virginia. With its farm, center and mobile market, Arcadia works to educate people about eating locally but first, Hess said you have to define "local."
"Everybody has a different definition of local," said Hess, "I think the Federal Government has 400 miles. Our definition is 125 miles."
Does it really matter?
"It does," Hess answered, "When you're buying local food, what you have the benefit of is two pieces and the first is that it's freshly picked when it's in season so you could be getting it in the same day as it was pulled from the field and that makes it taste better. It also gives it higher nutritional content. The longer it sits, the less nutrition it has."
Hess said the second piece is: when buying locally, you're supporting the local economy.
"When you're buying industrially produced food, food that's coming from all over the world or from very, very far away, you're spending most of your money transporting it there, paying the marketers and all the people in between and not the farmer. So the farmer may get just 15 cents per dollar you're spending."
To check for this, Hess said all you have to do is ask local farmers at farmer's markets. Or for larger places, like Whole Foods for example, look them up online to find out which farmers they're supporting.
Arcadia also educates people on how to grow their own produce. For more information, visit here: http://arcadiafood.org/