We hear a lot of "green" buzz phrases like: eat local, food miles, certified organic and food security. Sometimes it's hard to sort through what really matters and we throw our hands up and continue in a habit of thoughtless eating. I (Jen) would argue that eating locally grown food is one of the most important things we can do for our bodies and our planet.
In her book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" Barbara Kingsolver, along with her husband and daughter, chronicle a year of deliberately eating food produced close to where they live. I highly recommend this book to anyone. She does not sugar coat the difficulties, but shares her deep satisfaction of knowing she is eating what her own hands have grown. The food that she does not grow herself, such as meat and dairy, she buys from local farmers. Her husband, Steven Hopp, shares some astounding statistics in his sidebar "Oily Food" P. 5. "Each food item in a typical U.S. meal has traveled an average of 1,500 miles. In addition to direct transport, other fuel-thirsty steps include processing (drying, milling, cutting, sorting, baking), packaging, warehousing, and refrigeration. Energy calories consumed by production, packaging, and shipping far outweigh the energy calories we receive from the food."
Last Tuesday morning, I drove less than 10 miles from my house to a farmers market. Farmers, artists and bakers were there to sell there goods and engage in conversation. When was the last time you talked to the farmer that grew your food? I was able to buy food for numerous meals: lettuce, asparagus, radish's, fresh baked bread, cucumbers and shallots. Most of these items were picked that morning. I also came away with potted herbs for my garden. I could have gone to the store and no doubt spent more money for the same items, but the difference in the the food miles and most importantly taste of the farm fresh food is not even comparable! I can get organic cucumbers that are selected for their ability to travel long distances from California packaged like a Sherman Tank, or I can get a cucumber selected for it's taste and quality that come from within a few miles of where I purchase it. With oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico as I type this, my awareness of our countries dependence on oil is heightened, and quite honestly, it makes me angry.
Do I really think I can change the world and help the planet by buying my lettuce at a local farmers market? Maybe. Will the lettuce taste better? Absolutely. If the local food movement continues to pick up momentum, and more Americans buy their food at local farmers markets, can we change the world? Yes, I believe so. I believe conscientious consumers are already changing the face of the food systems in this country. Riemer Family Farm is committed to supplying quality natural beef to customers within 100 miles of the farm.
Steven Hopp suggests that if every U.S. citizen ate just one meal each week composed of locally raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country's oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week." That's just one meal! My goal is to eat as much local food as possible. Small buying habits can make a big difference!