According to a report put out by the Worldwatch Institute, Home Grown: The Case for Local Food in a Global Market, the food you eat typically travels anywhere from 1,500 to 2,500 miles before it ever reaches your plate! This distance is up to 25% farther than food traveled in 1980.
The distance our food travels has a direct effect on our environment since fossil fuels must be burnt to transport the food. These emissions are most often unnecessary because there are more and more options to support local food movements.
By purchasing local food, you are not only reducing emissions, but you are supporting your local economy and helping reduce waste. In addition, local food is fresher and more nutritious because it can be picked when ripe and you often find more unique varieties of food.
There is a movement called the locavore movement. It’s all about eating local food. Even if you live in a city, there are often local food options you should explore.
Rooftop gardens are becoming more and more popular in urban areas. Small farms are being built on top of high rise buildings in several US cities as well as in cities around the world. It’s a growing trend – one that we can expect to continue to expand in the years to come.
Many restaurants and hotels are beginning to build their own rooftop gardens so they can supply fresh produce to their patrons. Each morning, the chef can pick the produce they need for that day’s menu and serve fresh, truly local meals. Don’t have access to a rooftop? Try starting a window farm.
Steven Ritz is a teacher in the Bronx that has helped to build a community garden that supplies all of the fresh food the school he works for needs. He’s teaching children at a young age that they can grow and have access to fresh, local food. People like Ritz are starting programs like this one across the country, so look for one in your area.
If you’re unable to locate a garden in your community, you can help to organize a community garden for your neighborhood, church or town. It’s a great way to create open space and eat more local food.
Community Supported Agriculture Programs
Another option is to join a Communtiy Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. When you join a CSA, you purchase a share of the produce from a local farm. Each week, you pay a fee and receive your “share” of the farm’s production, which could include fruit, vegetables, nuts, milk, meat and more, depending upon the CSA you join.
Some CSAs even have days where their members can visit the farm and work on it. It’s a wonderful way to support local farmers, the local economy and truly get to know your farmer. Hands on? Check!
Local Harvest is a website that connects people looking for good food with the farmers who produce it. They have a directory listing of more than 30,000 CSAs, family farms and farmers markets as well as restaurants and grocery stores that highlight local food. With more than 30,000 CSA’s, you should be able to find a local CSA in their (growing – pun intended) database.
If you aren’t able to locate a CSA in your area, you can also visit your local farmers market and get to know your local farmers there. If you ask around enough, you may be able to find a farmer there that offers a CSA, or knows of a farm that does.
Do you know where your food comes from?
Feature image courtesy of Wendell