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October 31, 2014  |  Login

Think global, buy local produce

Buying locally produced food reduces transportation-related fuel consumption, protects land, and delivers more nutritious food to your family

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Shop your local farmers’ markets and pick produce from your state. When you buy food grown close to home, the positive impact is much farther-reaching than your dining room table. Locally grown fruits and vegetables require little energy to bring to market, and nutrients—which peak at the moment of harvest—are preserved. Delicious!

Your supermarket’s stock reflects a global food supply, much of it crossing continents and oceans to arrive at your table. Sound tasty? Look closer: weeks can elapse between the time your Chilean grapes are picked and you get to enjoy them. The average distance food travels between its origin and the market is 1,500 miles. This distance is called “food miles,” and the bigger the number, the more fossil fuels burned to bring that food to market.

Supporting local, small farms also preserves your local landscape. Large producers of mono-crops that warehouse, package and transport food huge distances typically practice unsustainable, industrial-scale farming that relies on toxic pesticides and heavy machinery to turn out high yields quickly and cheaply. This harsh treatment of the land damages topsoil, waterways and wildlife. Smaller producers, on the other hand, typically practice either organic or sustainable farming, and are better stewards of the land because of it.

 

Take Action / Next Steps
  • If you want to be sure your produce was grown nearby, shop farmers’ markets weekly during the season. Look up farmers’ markets at:
    Local Harvest
    AMS Farmers’ Market Map

  • Find sustainable food producers by zip code through the Eat Well Guide.

  • If you can’t get to a farmers’ market, join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group.In exchange for monthly dues, you’ll receive seasonal produce from area producers.

  • Required as of 2008, country-of-origin labels (COOLs) on produce are helpful to consumers in avoiding products from halfway around the world, but they don’t help us identify products grown on the other side of the country. Starting in September 2008, COOLs will be required on all produce.

  • Ask your grocer to stock more locally grown and raised food products.

  • Low-income communities can suffer the most from a lack of locally grown food. The Community Food Security Coalition helps community leaders and activists start up programs, such as community gardens, that provide low-income people access to healthy food.

 

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Did You Know?

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SOURCES :

1. Foodroutes.org. [Undated] “Where Does Your Food Come From?” Available from: http://www.foodroutes.org/whycare.jsp [11 December 2007]

2. Local Harvest. [Undated] “Why Buy Local?” Available from: http://www.localharvest.org/buylocal.jsp [11 December 2007]

3. Paxton, Angela. [1 October 1996] “Long-Distance Food Transport Bad for People and Environment.” Available from: http://www.sare.org/sanet-mg/archives/html-home/15-html/0471.html [12 December 2007]

4. Rauber, Paul. “Miles to Go Before You Eat.” Sierra. May/June 2006: 35.

5. Gaul, Gilbert M., Cohen, Sarah and Morgan, Dan. ”Federal Subsidies Turn Farms Into Big Business.” The Washington Post. 21 December 2006: Section A, Page 1.

 
 
 
 
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