Embrace Freshness, Support Local: Thornapple CSA's New Journey Begins!

Reaping the Rewards: The Surprising Health Benefits of Eating Local

June 26, 2024

Table of Contents

Reaping the Rewards: The Surprising Health Benefits of Eating Local

The Marvels of Mung Beans

Have you ever heard of the humble mung bean? This unassuming legume may just hold the key to unlocking the next generation of plant-based protein. As revealed in a recent report by the Good Food Institute APAC, mung beans offer several built-in advantages over more commonly used ingredients like soy and wheat.

For starters, mung beans have far lower allergenicity, making them a friendlier option for those with food sensitivities. They also contain properties that could enable less-intensive processing methods, helping products achieve the coveted “clean label” status that many health-conscious consumers seek. According to the report, mung beans are even celebrated in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, making them a familiar and broadly appealing ingredient in many Asian cultures.

But the real kicker? Mung beans are warm-season crops with higher heat and drought tolerance compared to cool-season plants like chickpeas or lentils. In fact, they have among the highest heat thresholds of all legumes. As our climate continues to warm, this could be a game-changer, as many commonly used ingredients may become significantly more difficult to grow while mung beans could thrive.

The Soy Saga

Despite these clear benefits, mung beans and other regionally produced crops remain notably absent from most plant-based protein ingredient lists. In 2022, a staggering 77% of plant-based meat products launched in Southeast Asia used soy or wheat as their primary protein source – ingredients primarily grown in the West.

This overreliance on Western imports introduces unnecessary instability into the supply chain and prevents local food producers from cashing in on what should be a clear windfall. It’s not that plant-based companies don’t want to use local ingredients; it’s just that, compared to soy and wheat, these regional crops have been woefully neglected by protein-focused research and development programs.

Soy-producing countries have spent decades optimizing that crop and driving down costs through innovative breeding programs, more than doubling the value they get from every acre of land. Similarly, cereal crops like wheat have nearly tripled their yield sizes over the past 50 years. Meanwhile, legumes (which include mung beans) have increased by a comparatively meager 60%. It’s a classic case of underinvestment leading to underutilization.

Unlocking Local Treasures

But the good news is that these are still early days in the global plant-based food market’s growth. There’s a brief window of time for local crops to get in the game – a transition that Asia is well-positioned to lead as a top mung bean production region.

By rapidly making up lost ground on high-tech food science R&D, Singapore, Thailand, and other regional agri-food hubs can enable Asian crops to compete with Western ingredients on cost, protein content, functionality, and yield. This could unleash their full potential as plant-based powerhouse ingredients, further strengthening international ties, empowering regional farmers and producers, and helping Asia take control of its own food destiny.

As we’ve seen with the rise of local honey, the benefits of eating regional foods can be vast. Not only do they support local economies and reduce environmental impact, but they can also offer unique nutritional advantages.

The Power of Plant-Based Eating

Of course, the health benefits of eating local go far beyond just mung beans. Plant-based diets, in general, have been linked to a host of positive outcomes, from reduced risk of chronic diseases to improved gut health and better weight management.

A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, for example, found that a plant-based diet high in whole, minimally processed foods was associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Another review in Nutrients concluded that plant-based diets can positively influence the gut microbiome, leading to better digestion and immune function.

And let’s not forget the environmental impact. By choosing locally grown, plant-based foods, you’re not only nourishing your body but also supporting sustainable agriculture and reducing your carbon footprint. Signing up for a community-supported agriculture (CSA) service is an excellent way to get a regular supply of fresh, seasonal produce from nearby farms.

Cultivating Calm and Connection

But the benefits of eating local extend beyond just physical health. Gardening and growing your own food can also have a profound impact on your mental well-being.

As Suzette Chaumette, a public health professional and permaculture gardener, explains, “Being outside or stepping into a garden can offer you some much-needed relief” from the stresses of everyday life. She suggests that gardening allows us to “connect with the earth, reduce our environmental impact, and create a tranquil and beautiful space.”

Chaumette also highlights the importance of “sit spots” – regular practice of sitting quietly in a natural space and tuning into our senses. This simple act of mindfulness can bring a sense of calm and reconnection amidst the storm of racing thoughts, fears, and responsibilities.

The Joy of Sharing

And the benefits of gardening don’t stop there. One of the greatest joys of growing your own food is the ability to share the abundance with your community. Whether it’s donating excess produce to a local food bank or trading with your neighbors, this act of generosity can foster a sense of connection and support.

As Chaumette notes, “Sharing not only fosters a sense of community but also reduces food waste and supports local sustainability.” It’s a win-win-win situation for you, your neighbors, and the planet.

Embracing the Local Lifestyle

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to embrace the power of eating local and start reaping the rewards. Whether it’s exploring the wonders of mung beans, signing up for a CSA, or getting your hands dirty in the garden, there are endless ways to connect with your community, nourish your body and mind, and make a positive impact on the environment.

The journey may not always be easy, but the payoff is more than worth it. As Chaumette so eloquently puts it, “Be part of a movement of people taking control of their food. Being food independent is all about getting closer to your food for your health and your family’s health.”

So, let’s get started on this delicious and fulfilling adventure. Who knows, you might just discover your new favorite superfood – or maybe even become a green-thumbed gardening guru. The possibilities are endless when you embrace the local lifestyle.

About Us

Thornapple CSA: A community-driven initiative championing sustainable agriculture. We connect members with fresh, organic produce, celebrating the bond between land and community.

Follow On

Subscrive Our Newsletter
To Get More Updates

© 2023 Thornapplecsa.com. All Rights Reserved