Think Global, Eat Local

With the arrival of spring comes the increased opportunity for many of us to feast on food grown locally; for TreeHuggers, that’s generally within 150 miles or so. When it comes to being an environmentally-aware person and good TreeHugger, eating local is near the top of the list; we mentioned it on this blog before [], but it bears repeating. Ingredients for the average American meal typically travel between 1,500 and 2,500 miles from farm to plate; this average meal uses up to 17 times more petroleum products, including an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emissions, than an entirely local meal… yikes.

So, eating local not only cuts back on shipping and emissions, but it tastes better, too: because it doesn’t have far to travel, fresh produce can be allowed to fully ripen and picked at the peak of freshness, taking hours instead of days to get from where it was grown to where you can buy or eat it. Eating local also supports local farming, which is almost always small, family farming rather than large, autonomous factory farming. Family farming tends to be more sustainable, too, because the family farmers can’t afford to rape and pillage the earth to plant more crops this season; they need the soil to produce for them for the foreseeable future, so they tend to hold back on pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers and other substances that you don’t want to eat.

Not convinced? TreeHugger has devoted a lot time and effort promoting local food; here are a selected few stories and posts that you can read for more information on why eating local is good, and how to eat local, starting today:

    [*] To clarify the benefits of eating local, we teamed up with EarthTalk to answer the question: Why eat local? []
    [*] Further, here are 10 reasons to eat local [], including a link to a printable PDF, so you can pass along the good word.
    [*] Hey, even Time Magazine [] has caught on, helping the idea transition into the mainstream.
    [*] Local Harvest [] is a great resource to find local farms, community-supported agriculture co-ops and other local food resources near you, and it’s growing all the time.
    [*] If you’re serious about digging in to local food, check out the Eat Local Challenge [], where you eat only local food for a month or more.
    [*] If a month is too much, Bon Appetit Management Company hosts the Eat Local Challenge [] at over 400 restaurants across the US, who serve a lunch that brings small farmers, professional chefs and local eaters together to enjoy the fruits of a local foodshed and the unique challenges of sourcing sea salt in the Midwest and corn syrup on the coasts.
    [*] So, what’s it like to eat only local food? We tracked a couple on the 100 Mile Diet [] (here’s part two []) who learned the benefits, pitfalls and challenges of the local diet.
    [*] It’s generally a lot easier to eat local in the late spring and summer months, when local farmers are growing and harvests are plentiful, but we can eat local all year round [].
    [*] Eating local means different foods for different climates and parts of the world; here are menus for four cities in Canada [] that use only food that comes from within 100 miles, proving you can eat entire meals (for weeks at a time) using local food, if you’re willing to try something new and be creative.

So, as you can see, there are myriad benefits and resources for eating local food, and it’s one of the easiest and most effective actions we as consumers can take to reduce our dependence on oil and other petroleum products and shrink our individual footprints so there’s a little more of everything for everyone else.