A lot of people don't completely think about the entire concept of eating local and why it is beneficial. It's not just about knowing it's fresh; it's also good for the earth, supports local businesses and improves the quality of dishes.
Fruits and vegetables that come from local sources have more time to ripen and come fresh because they have less travel time. Think about all the time it takes for an apple to come from Central America versus getting an apple picked from an Orchard 20 minutes up the road. The ingredients are fresher and they don't require airplanes to bring them across country. You also have a better chance of the items being transported in proper conditions and not cross-contaminated.
“Each food items in a typical U.S. meal has traveled an average of 1,500 miles....If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce we would reduce our country's oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week." - Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
Eating local foods also means supporting local growers. Every time you buy local fruits, vegetables, meats or dairy, you are supporting a local farmer, grower or manufacturer instead of supporting other states or countries. Restaurants, in the past few years have really started focusing on increasing the amount of local produce or meats that they purchase. Some restaurants will highlight on their menu what local suppliers they support. The farm to fork approach to purchasing has been a larger focus including restaurants that not only buy local if available but also work directly with farmers or suppliers to build their menu around local options.
Local foods are seasonal and not chemically altered. There is a huge difference in flavor between home grown tomatoes, and tomatoes that are forced to ripen with gas or chemicals. One chemical illegally used for ripening fruits in India is calcium carbide, and could also lead to cancer. A naturally ripened tomato bursts with flavors and when used to make a sauce or recipe, it enhances the overall flavor. If you buy local than you know the produce was grown during the right season and naturally ripened.
Take time to check out your local farmers market if it hasn't closed for the season. Also, check your local grocery store to see what local items they carry. Lastly, check out what local farms or orchards are in your area, some are open to the public. Eating local not only is great for your community and tastes better, but it also makes sense.