Does your food get around more than you do? That’s a problem.
The Woes Commercially-grown crops travel anywhere from 1500 to 2500 miles from the field to your local supermarket. Commercial farmers breed crops for their ability to make these long journeys, rather than for their taste. Then, they pick crops before they are at the peak of ripeness, which compromises both their quality and their nutritional content. Long transport distances require more fuel and emit more CO2 emissions into the environment. What’s more, a reliance on a long-distance food system makes communities vulnerable to interferences in that system, such as a fuel shortage, food contamination or acts of terrorism.
The Wows Locally-grown crops travel an average distance of about 50 miles from farm to table. Consumers get a wide variety of crops picked at the peak of ripeness that does not need to be fumigated, refrigerated or packaged in order to survive its journey. By supporting local farmers, you keep money in your community, create jobs, support your regional cuisine and heritage, lessen the negative impact on the environment, and increase your community’s self-reliance. You also get the best tasting, most nutritious crops possible. What’s not to like?
What You Can Do Now
1. Buy crops at local farmers markets.
2. Ask your supermarket manager, school food buyer or corporate cafeteria buyer about the possibility of including some local produce. Okay, fine, so maybe the "centralized purchasing system" won’t allow for that, but you never know which person’s request will be the tipping point.
3. Plant a garden—you can’t get more local than that! Don’t want the work? Put in a few perennial herbs and a pot or two of cherry tomatoes. It doesn’t get much easier.
FoodShed gives the dirt on local, sustainable food every Tuesday and Thursday on Divine Caroline.
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