The movement to buy local, healthy food is spreading across the country and gaining momentum - and that is a very good thing.
It is driven by several factors - one, the taste of fresh, local food is just so much better than food that has traveled far. Two, it often costs less because it is seasonally produced and the food is generally abundant and there are few transportation costs. And third is the state of our planet and global warming. As we know, driving food across the country and using gallons of gasoline to do it contributes to our climate conditions and the damages the planet.
This week I attended a meeting that dealt with the need for reducing our demand for oil. There was a lot of discussion about Middle East tensions and global warming and how we all needed to "do something" to make a change. Of course, there were suggestions for driving less, flying less and avoiding petroleum-based plastics. I began to think that if we became active in the local food movement there would be an impact on our energy consumption, too and we could cut the demand for oil even more.
Currently, there are several definitions being used for "local food." It ranges from food grown in a 250 mile radius to foods that are grown in just a 100 mile radius. Joan Dye Gussow, a Professor of Nutrition at Columbia has a great definition for local food. She says it is food grown "within a day's leisurely drive."
She also reveals a statistic that should get your attention: A strawberry that was shipped from California to New York required 435 calories of fossil fuel but provided the eater just 5 calories of nutrition.
Thankfully, we're starting to see increased awareness of buying local more and more. Have you noticed the recent promotions for locally grown produce in the aisles of supermarkets like Whole Foods? Not only are they promoting their organic fruits and veggies, but they are now including promotions for locally grown produce, spending $10 million to help local farmers expand. That is a responsive step. Although some people in the media have tried to make it a fight between local vs. organic food, but I think that both should be a central part of our food system.
The 2007 Farm Bill now being debated in the Senate also contains provisions that will bring more local food to our city tables. I hope that you will let your members of Congress know you support the programs that bring local fruits and vegetables to our communities.
Finally, visit your local farmer's market this weekend. That is absolutely the best way to find the freshest, tastiest local fruits, veggies, meats eggs and cheeses. Have you checked out how to find out what is freshest nearest you?
From Ellen's Healthy Table:
A Wonderful Recipe that is a Fall Star
Published On: October 19, 2007