I’ve Been Everywhere, Man
They say on average, our fruit and vegetables travel 1500 miles to our grocery store. How many times have you looked at the little sticker on that pear, or apple, or cucumber and seen from Chile or Argentina? Used to be years ago when certain vegetables and fruit were out of season, we just had to do without, unless we had the foresight and energy and time to do some canning. Nobody in the city wants to do that. We’re too busy taking the kids to soccer practice, dance class or Karate class. Not to mention the fact that most of us live as a two income family so we can prepare for the college days and live in as much comfort as we can possibly afford. The extra room in the backyard is for a pool, not a garden or greenhouse. The association would never allow that.
Pollution Vs. Solution
Airfreight creates 50 times more CO2 than shipping, but it is so much faster. Even so, much of the fruit and vegetables in our meals have to be picked before they ripen, and then gassed with ethylene to ripen them faster after their arrival. That is not dangerous-if you put fruit such as peaches or apples in a brown paper bag for a couple of days, the ethylene that is naturally emitted from the fruit trapped in the bag will make your fruit ripen or soften up and cause some additional sweetness.
Some fruits are processed in factories with preservatives and irradiation in order to keep them stable for transportation and eventual sale.
It seems to me we would all be better off accepting all the benefits of buying locally grown food.
Why Buy Local
The reduction in pollution is a no brainer. Considering all the clamoring about producing vehicles that produce less toxic emissions, it makes sense to just not ship foods any more than is absolutely necessary. I’m sure to the trucking industry this idea seems pretty dismal, but I can tell you this. Hauling fossil fuels by train or shooting them through pipelines has proven to be disastrous as of late. I don’t hear about near as many truck tankers wrecking, leaking or ruining streams and farmland. Hauling it by truck maybe just as toxic to the atmosphere, but at least politicians wouldn’t need to continue kicking people off their land to string more pipeline that is just going to destroy the land anyway. Any trucker that doesn’t want do to this can become a farmer.
Know Your Guy
Another benefit, is knowing what is in your food. You don’t have to be concerned with Genetically Modified Organisms. Farmer’s markets need to make a come back. When buying at your local farmer’s market, you can get to know your farmer, his practices like how he processes the food, and how he grows it. You might even have him over for dinner. If you cook what he grew and he eats it, you develop more faith in that person. You know he cares about what he is doing and will do everything in his power to ensure that you have the finest fruit and vegetables possible, because he is doing it for himself as well.
Think Of Your Community
You might want to grow some vegetables yourself, but if you’re not doing it commercially, it’s nice to know you don’t have to go far to get fine food. This also adds jobs in your community. Most of my life I never considered farming as a career, but I didn’t know about all the different techniques then. Now, even though I’m still relatively new to it, I love the idea.
Having several people growing food locally, also makes it easier to help those in need. I’m not really interested in growing commercially, but if I’m going to grow 12 heads of lettuce, I may as well grow 24 heads of lettuce. Any thing extra I know I’m not going to eat, I will give away. Local commercial farmers can take a similar interest, too. If the majority of the county is buying locally grown food, a farmer making a business out of it would do well by donating a small amount of his bounty to churches and/or local food banks. Eventually those that the farmer helps will be doing better and will continue the cycle of helping and buying locally.
Obviously, some folks will be ranchers of some sort or another. They too can contribute. If you eat and buy meat, wouldn’t you feel safer getting it from someone you sit next to in church every Sunday or in the stands at the high school sports events? They need vegetables and fruit and you need meat, and you all want and need the security of knowing where it comes from and what is in it.
And The Winners Are………..
When communities come together in this way, it changes everything. Their political strength grows, their moral values swell because they are looking out for one another, and the community as a whole is healthier and stronger. So everybody benefits from buying locally grown food. There just isn’t any down side, that I can see. There is a book called The Emergent Agriculture: Farming, Sustainability and the Return of the Local Economy at Amazon that is more in depth on this subject and well worth reading. Check it out.
So let me hear what you think. Leave me a comment with any ideas you might have on this subject and sign up for the newsletter, which is currently under construction, but should be out within the next week.