On average, food has to travel 2,400 kilometers from field to table. Traveling that far of a distance requires a lot of energy – it uses up refrigeration, transportation, stocking, and processing. One of the major problems with the way the current agriculture and food system is set up is the fact that food has to have so many miles on it before it reaches a family table. By crossing so many miles, the risk of the food getting contaminated, withering, spoiling, and losing its overall freshness increase exponentially. There are many problems with the way food has to travel so far to reach you, and there is one easy solution that citizens across the world can use to sustain themselves while still enjoying all of the nourishing foods they get imported . (Cuesa)
The local-food growing movement has steadily been gaining momentum. First, it started in already developed countries, as well as many developing countries. A local diet and shopping local simply means purchasing all of the food you consume within a 150-kilometer radius to your home. While the 150-kilometer radius mark is usually the most commonly accepted, there are some that also accept up to 250 kilometers depending on your location, especially if you’re in an especially dry and desert-like region. (Worldwatch Institute)
Not only are there benefits for you when you shop and grow local, but there are also countless environmental benefits. When food has to travel well over a thousand miles to reach your table, resources have been exhausted (gas for transportation, refrigeration, etc.) in order to get it there. Your food has, overall, less of an environmental impact when you switch to growing your own or shopping locally. By making the switch, you’re greatly diminishing your carbon footprint. Plus, local food is safer, preserves genetic diversity far more than imported foods, and there are a number of other benefits that growing local has to offer.
There are also many personal benefits that shopping for local food has to offer. First, food that was grown locally and just recently picked from the vine, tree, plant, or bush is going to taste and look better than anything mass-produced stored has to offer. Not only that, but local food has more nutritional value in each bite. Not only does your body reap the benefits of everything that local food has to offer, but you also get the joy of talking to a local grower or farmer that you’re helping by shopping at their location instead of a big-time grocery store. Getting to help a local grower put food on their own table by shopping through them is reward enough. (University of Vermont)
There is a distinct difference between local food and sustainable food that is important to mention when discussing the switch to shopping locally. While they are sometimes used interchangeably or as synonyms, “local” food is simply food that is grown within a certain mile radius from your home. “Sustainable,” on the other hand, is food that has the ability to be maintained at a specific rate or level, thriving and becoming chock full of vitamins and nutrients that the counterparts and mass-produced grocery stores could never compared to.
Once you become fully aware of the problems that the current food system is facing, you can become more active in doing something to change the system and you can stay informed about what the agriculture field is becoming. By switching to local foods, you reduce the risk of food getting damaged, spoiled, or contaminated, and you help a local farm near you instead of a big-time corporation or company.
This article is part of a miniseries about problems in current agriculture.
Read the previous articles here: Part1