Why Locally Grown Produce Tastes Better

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You're hip to the planet's needs: You know that the way we consume food has to change in order to sustain the future of humanity. That might guide any number of your decisions, including the choice to shop locally as often as possible. After all, why not? As everyone knows, food that's grown within 100 miles of where you buy it definitively tastes better.

Does it, though? Researchers at Cornell University may have some news for us. Horticulturists and economists came together to show study participants two different strains of broccoli; one was from California, while the other had been grown in New York. The California broccoli was rated as more attractive — but when testers were told the origin of the New York broccoli, they rated it as better-tasting and as a better value, even if it cost more.

This study is in some ways the inverse of one released earlier this year. They both confirm that the stories we tell about what we buy and eat have as much to do with how we experience that product as how it objectively tastes or looks. Both ingredient backstories and menu fonts have a similar impact no how we spend our money. This isn't to shame or deter anyone from one choice or another; there are plenty of good reasons to prefer local organic or flash-frozen prepacked foods. Like all marketing, however, the words we see at the farmer's market can make just as much a difference as those we see at a grocery store.