Many folks these days are trying to buy more “locally grown” food (grown within about 150 miles of home). Local food is grown in season, is fresher, and often tastes better than produce shipped across the country. Additionally, by buying locally grown food, you make a small reduction in the energy costs needed for shipping, and every little bit helps! One of the best parts of buying locally grown food is supporting local, smaller farms. It’s not going to solve every environmental issue associated with feeding 7 billion people, but buying local could be an addition to our bag of tricks. Interested in learning how important “buying local” is to small farms? Check out Forrest Pritchard’s book, Gaining Ground, about his experiences as a small farmer in VA.
When you’re trying to buy local, does all of your food have to come from the local area? Nope – some items just aren’t grown locally. In Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: a Year of Food Life, her family tried to buy only locally grown food for an entire year, but each person was allowed two “non-local” items, ie. coffee, orange juice, some wines, even candy. Here’s an example of the other extreme: a chef who owns a 100% locally sourced restaurant in…..wait for it…….Maine! I guess if he can do it, we can give it a try!
My church screened an interesting documentary about the local food movement and its environmental impacts, called Ingredients. It’s definitely worth an hour to learn a little more about the environmental impacts of food production.
Many folks don’t like to eat locally, because they say the food is more expensive, but cheap food often has hidden costs (see Ingredients, above). Additionally, many farmers markets now accept SNAP benefits! Remember, one of the best ways to get inexpensive, local food is to grow your own. Turning your lawn into a vegetable garden and pollinator garden is a more productive use of your space. And you’ll get great veggies too!