Why should you even care where your food comes from? Who cares if it’s from down the street, or across the globe? Don’t we live in a modern age filled with conveniences? What difference does it make where the food I eat comes from? As it turns out, it makes a big difference.
You don’t have to look very far to find another article about greenhouse gasses and climate change. Regardless of what you believe about it, certainly it makes sense to be good stewards of this earth. Does it make more sense to eat what is already in our local area, or to use a finite resource (fossil fuels) to move it across the country or the globe so you can have save a little bit on a cantaloupe?
Anyone who has ever compared the flavor of a homegrown tomato to a store bought one can tell you that the flavor isn’t in the same ballpark. Fruits and vegetables allowed to ripen on the plant and eaten closer to harvest time will always taste better than those picked well ahead of time to allow for shipping time.
Not only will local taste better, but will also be more nutritious. The longer a plant is able to mature, the more nutritious the harvest will be. Also, as soon as you harvest, nutrition starts to be lost. The sooner you eat it, the better. When it grows closer to you, this is easier.
When you seek out and support local food, you support the local economy. Rather than sending your dollars to a far away mega corporation, support that sweet family 20 minutes from your house who lives on a few acres and is trying to make a living with some chickens, some fruit trees and a few gardens. Speaking of a few across close to your house, don’t you want to play a part in preserving some land near you that is neither a parking lot or a strip mall?
The fact is that you vote with your dollars. You get to vote every day what kind of world you want to live in. Every one of your dollars supports something. You get to choose what that is. Be mindful about what sort of world you support with your spending.
So what steps can you take to put more local food into your life? We are all so accustomed to being able to eat whatever we want, all year long. We also want to be able to go to one big supermarket and get everything we need. So how do we start to make a change?
Probably the first step would be to decide to, when faced with a choice, resolve just to make the better choice. While you’re at that big grocery store, eat the food item labeled to have been grown in your state. Or, eat what’s in season rather than those grapes flown up from South America in January. Become familiar with what is in season in your area during each month of the year so yu can make smart choices.
Try a short term challenge. The Living Homegrown podcast recently aired an episode with Andrea Bemis where they talked about a Local Thirty Challenge where you commit to eating only local food for thirty days. If you don’t feel you can do thirty whole days, then do a week. Can’t commit to only local everything? Then commit to just local produce. Just try something. Start with a small change and see what happens.
Finally, support agriculture in your town and neighborhood. Do you live in an HOA? Start a movement to allow Backyard Chickens. If you want local food, you need to be willing to see it being grown. What does it hurt for attractive food crops to be grown in landscape beds in the front yard? What does it hurt to have a couple of chickens in the back yard? Support your neighbors and their steps toward sustainability and away from dependence on the industrial food system.