Monday, August 10, 2009

Eating Locally

As in produce. I've been wanting to blog about this for quite a while. Forbes magazine had yet another thought-provoking article called "The Myth of the Locavore." Now I've always fancied myself a locavore of sorts; I prefer to get my produce whenever possible from local sources and we generally only eat foods that are in season. When we do eat non-seasonal produce, I try to avoid produce that has been imported from foreign countries.

Why? Good question. Part of the reason is that I just much prefer to eat tomatoes grown by Dave than tomatoes grown, er, where exactly? I love getting our annual supply of fresh grapes for our homemade grape juice from Mrs. Justy every year. I love the many, many places we can go pick our own fruits and vegetables around here. I loved our csa where the farmer himself brought our weekly produce delivery to our door. (We didn't subscribe this year since we weren't sure if/when we'd be moving!) Also, local produce that is grown for flavor is a lot better-tasting then trucked produce that is grown for its ability to survive shipping. A lesser reason I did it is I had a vague notion that it was probably better for the environment.

About a month ago, Forbes ran this very interesting article, and it really made me re-think what all of this means. You can read the article for yourself, but these are some of the points I found most interesting:

•How a particular crop or animal is raised can significantly affect the carbon footprint; so much so that food brought in from another country may actually have a lesser impact on the environment than food produced locally but in a less carbon-friendly way (the author cites a study that showed that it was actually more environmentally responsible for Brits to buy lamb from New Zealand than lamb that had been home-grown).

•Transportation accounts for only 11% of a food's carbon footprint

•Sending 2,000 apples 2,000 miles costs the same fuel per apple as sending 50 apples 50 miles.

•Finally, it's nearly impossible for the consumer to determine what a particular item's carbon footprint actually is.

Interesting points to ponder. Doesn't change my habits at all. I always take the buzzwords "organic," "fair trade," and "local" with a grain of salt. And I am simply floored at the premiums that people will pay for products that come with these buzzwords when they can't even afford to pay their rent. I guess I'm a moderate. :) Good night!

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