Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Importance of Buying Local

Here are some compelling reasons to buy local:
  • You have a much better chance of being able to trace how your food is raised and produced. According to recent research, many outfits claiming to use "organic", "natural", "free-range", and so-called "humane" methods actually do not employ these practices and use these terms to turn a profit. Use caution, because if that is indeed the case, there is even more good reason to buy from local farmers where you can contact them and arrange to visit their premises to verify that conditions under which produce is produced and animals are living is indeed acceptable.
  • Children are at an advantage when they eat local food purchased by their families because they develop a knowledge and appreciation for where food comes from - especially when you involve your children in the choosing and purchasing of the food you eat.
  • Supporting your local economy feeds back into the efforts of those same merchants and farmers, and provides a climate which allows those individuals to continue bringing safe, healthy food to your family and community.
  • You will help reduce your carbon footprint by using less fossil fuels. The largest usage of fossil fuels in factory farming is not transporting food or fueling machinery; it’s chemicals. As much as forty percent of energy used in the food system goes towards the production of artificial fertilizers and pesticides. "Fertilizers are synthesized from atmospheric nitrogen and natural gas, a process that takes a significant amount of energy. Producing and distributing them requires an average of 5.5 gallons of fossil fuels per acre". (Richard Manning:"The Oil We Eat: Following the Food Chain Back to Iraq", Harpers, July 23, 2004).
  • Food that travels a distance picks up toxins along the way and also loses its nutritional value, the less fresh it is. Flavor also suffers, as fresh always tastes superior to frozen, canned, or even something fresh that is shipped 1500 miles in two days.
Although it is true that some foods produced in your local communities do not use practices and methods you would want to support, it makes it vastly easier to find those things out when those farmers and merchants are 30 or 40 miles from home as opposed to 1500 miles away. Be willing to do the necessary research to make certain the food you are eating and buying is healthy and sustainable. Think about it.

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