In my last post, I explained that because Rhode Island farmers had been hit hard by the excessive rain that we’ve had this summer, it was more important than ever to support them. In this post, I’ll elaborate on other economic, environmental, and health-related reasons to eat local food.
The following is from an article that I wrote for Natural News Network about local foods. The article is divided into two parts. One will only be of interest to Rhode Islanders–how to eat local in Rhode Island.
Part two is about why it’s important to shop for and eat local foods. It’s that article that I’ll share with you here:
The industrial food production system has a significant negative impact on the environment. Huge factory farms rely on fossil-fuel-driven machines, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and genetically modified plant varieties. These practices make food abundant, inexpensive, and available to more people — but at a price.
Runoff of excess fertilizer and pesticides is a major source of pollution in rivers, lakes, and the ocean, causing fish kills and dead zones. Excessive tillage damages the structure of soil. Air quality in industrialized farm areas is profoundly affected by the intense and repeated aerial application of chemicals.
The average food ingredient travels 1,300 miles to get from the farm to your dinner plate. Fossil fuel emissions for all that transport contribute to air pollution, acid rain, and global climate change. Conversely, eating food raised as close-by as possible means less fuel wasted. Also, most local farms are small-scale operations, and use gentler farming methods with fewer adverse impacts.
Buying local food also has significant economic impact. It keeps your grocery dollars with farmers in your region, promoting the local economy and helping to save farmland. It can make the difference between keeping farms in Rhode Island or seeing them all turned into shopping malls, parking lots, or subdivisions.
Local food is healthier. Because local food doesn’t travel great distances, it doesn’t need wax, hormones, preservatives, or commercial ripening chemicals. For example, industrially produced tomatoes are often picked while green and sprayed with a hormone that helps them ripen in transit. You’ve eaten tomatoes like that, haven’t you? They taste stale and bland. Locally grown food is fresher and it tastes better, too.
A side benefit of buying local food is you can often meet the food producer and learn how the crops were grown or the livestock was raised. This is of special benefit to children, who may otherwise grow up thinking food comes from a factory. Take them to a farmers’ market, or better still, to a farm, to show them how we depend on a healthy planet.
So, I hope you’re lucky enough to have access to locally grown produce this summer. If so, head to a farmstand or farmers’ market this weekend, and enjoy!
Photo and article courtesy of Natural News Network.