Friday, February 13, 2009

Why is Eating Local Good?

I was just asked how eating locally positively impacts the environment. In answering such questions, I often find myself thinking....

All together now....

A dangerous pastime. I know.

As a result, I'm dumping a bunch of thoughts as to why eating locally produced food can be a good thing:

  1. If you buy from a farmer you know, you can express how you want that farmer to do their business. You have MORE influence over how local producers go about their job than you do if you have no idea who is growing the food.
  2. Eating in-season and local shows a tremendous reduction in fossil fuel use. Food typically travels an average of 1300-1500 miles to get to our grocery stores.
  3. People who have a more direct connection to their food, food producers and the land tend to be more aware of the environment.
  4. Promoting local food sources encourages diversified crops. Diversity is more environmentally friendly than monocropping (single crops in large fields). Diversity is a more stable agricultural system that requires less in the form of governmental supports.
  5. Food that is picked ripe - or at least closer to ripe. Which means better taste and better nutrition.
  6. Varieties that were developed for taste and nutrition, rather than for shipping and shelf-life characteristics.
  7. Local growers have a tendency to buy more product for their businesses from other local businesses.
  8. More outdoor summer jobs for people who would like them.
  9. A world wide system of strong local food networks is safer than a world wide system of shipping from concentrated centers. As a computer scientist, I know that a redundant system is one that can keep going with less apparent distress than a centralized one.
  10. More local foods means more local foods producers - which means another alternative for local business development that promotes healthy communities, environment and economy.
  11. And...because this list MUST go to 11.... A stronger local food system can actually mean greater diversity in the selection of foods that we all have. That doesn't mean you will be getting bananas from us any time soon - but there is more diversity in food product than most of us know about. We simply allow ourselves to have tunnel vision within the limited set provided in our grocery stores.

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