According to the 2015 Locavore Index — produced by Strolling of the Heifers, a Vermont-based local food advocacy group — Maine is the second best at consuming locally-produced food.

This is good news for Mainers and New Englanders. As Chuck Ross, agriculture secretary in Vermont can attest to, producing and consuming local food is integral to economic growth and a healthy community.

“Today, less than 2 percent of our national population makes a living farming — the gap between consumers and the origins of the food they eat has never been more vast,” Ross said. “[Producing local food] is important work. It creates economic opportunity… and provides healthy food for our communities.”

Maine has been ranked the second best state for locally produced food since 2013 (after Vermont), with 92 documented farmers markets throughout the state and 142 community-supported agriculture operations (CSAs).

So, with Maine being one of the best at local food production and consumption, what are the benefits? Here’s a top ten list created by Strolling of the Heifers.

Supports local farms

Buying local food helps keep farms in business and creates local jobs at farms and local food processing and distribution systems.

Boosts local economy

Food dollars spent here in Maine’s economy stay in Maine’s economy.

Less travel

Producers who sell locally don’t have to travel as far a distance, leading to fresher food for consumers.

More freshness

Local food is better for you. It spends less time in transit, allowing it to taste better and not lose as many nutrients.

New and better flavors

When buying local, you’ll appreciate seasonal offerings and learn new ways to prepare food. You may even experience how something should taste.

Good for the soil

Local food demands diversification of local agriculture, which means less reliance on monoculture. (That’s when single crops are grown over a wide area to the detriment of the soils.)

Attracts tourism

Agritourism — it’s exactly what it sounds like — only helps bring people to our state.

Preserves open space

Farms that are in business keep land from being urbanized.

Builds more connected communities

Local people coming together to share and trade local food helps create strong connections and friendships in any community.