local foods.

buying locally grown produce & supporting sustainability

Consumers have become more aware of where their food is coming from and the impact it has on their health, the environment, and the economy. This in turn has created an eco-healthy movement in which more people are embracing the idea of buying locally grown produce.

Commonly, “locally grown” is used to refer to products grown in the local area. The definition gets hazy when it comes time to define what is considered to be “local”. The meaning varies from place to place & from season to season due to the fact that there are no strict regulations or standards in order to label a product as locally grown. Some say 100 miles while others say anything that has traveled for less than 7 hours. To be sure of how far your food has traveled ask the vendor.

Foodroute.org provides several reasons that shed light on the importance of buying locally grown food. The idea of buying local is unique because it nourishes the environment by reducing packaging material & pollution that comes with transporting goods from distant places. It also gives you the opportunity to choose foods from farmers you trust, which creates a sense of community. This has several health implicatins because “knowing where your food comes from & how it is grown or raised enables you to choose food from farmers who avoid or reduce their use of chemicals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, or genetically modified seed in their operations.” Finally, staying local boosts the economy by pumping money into your local community. According to a study done at the University of Iowa in 2003, small farms re-invest more money into local economies by purchasing materials from local businesses, as opposed to large farms who often order in bulk from outside companies. So as the stock market crashes, take your money to the farmers’ market.

The Eat Well Guide is a fantastic search engine that enables you to find local, sustainable, organic food in your region. Local Harvest is another valuable resource that provides area listings with descriptions, reviews, & maps.

By making a conscientious effort to support the sustainability of our local community’s food we are promoting “food production methods that are healthy, do not harm the environment, respect workers, are humane to animals, provide fair wages to farmers, and support farming communities (sustainabletable.org).” Buying local is certainly a good practice to advocate & a worthwhile cause to be a part of. If you’re bogged down by the complicated jargon, the sustainability dictionary is an outstanding tool that will help decipher the definitions. The sustainable table’s eat local, buy local, be local and introduction to sustainability sections are other excellent sources of information on the local foods movement and push for food sustainability.

The following video is discusses the impact of buying locally grown food.