Tomorrow is Earth Day! Earth Day reminds us of the importance of our devotion to local and mindfully-grown foods. When we choose to spend our dollars on food grown close to home and opt to fill our reusable grocery bags with a variety of vegetables and fruits cultivated in rich, chemical-free soil, we are making ecological choices with momentous benefits. Here are the facts:
Food Miles & Climate Change On average, U.S. food travels 1,500 miles before arriving to our fridges (DeWeerdt). By choosing to purchase fruits, veggies, and other items from local farms and producers, we are reducing the cumulative food miles traveled by our food and, therefore, the carbon emissions that directly impact climate change.
Speaking of climate change, let’s use a real time example - California. California is currently experiencing one of the worst droughts in history. Currently, two-thirds of the state is in “extreme” drought and more than 40% of the state is in “exceptional drought” – the highest category of drought. California grows a significant majority of American fruits, vegetables, and nuts found in our local grocery chain. Similarly, California agriculture consumes about 40% of its water sources. If we continue to demand California vegetables, fruits, and nuts, we are contributing to the use of this limited natural resource and the impact of this extreme weather. The drought in California can have rippling affects across the country. Not to mention the considerable carbon emissions given off when shipping fruits and vegetables across the country.
Biodiversity When we eat locally, we are typically buying products from small to midsize farms. Small to medium farms grow a wide variety of crops instead of cultivating a mono-crop, such as corn or soy. Growing many different crops on a single farm protects biodiversity and ensures long-term food security.
Soil Health The environmental impact of food not only depends on the water consumed and the miles logged, but also on how it is grown. By choosing local food produced by farmers that use sustainable, organic, and IPM methods, we are ensuring that no harmful pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides are contaminating the soil, and inevitably our surrounding water sources. Such chemicals have been linked to CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder in bees) and numerous other environmental crises, not to mention the implications they have on our health.
Responsible Land Development By supporting local farms, we are voting to protect farmland, a rapidly decreasing resource, and preserving green spaces, encouraging responsible land development. Here in New York State, more than 80% of NYS fruits and vegetables come from land that is threatened by development and suburban sprawl. If we continue to support these hardworking farmers, perhaps we can reduce this percentage, giving them peace of mind and protecting our environment.
The simple act of eating locally positively affects our Earth in numerous ways. So, let us nurture our Earth by simply voting with our forks and grocery bags and spreading the word to our friends and family. Let us choose to eat GOOD, feel GOOD & do GOOD with The Good Food Collective.
Resources: DeWeerdt, S. (n.d.). Is Local Food Better?. Worldwatch Institute. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6064