How to eat local food
For day 27 of our carbon fast we’re talking about food and looking at air miles.
The suggestion reads “Buy food that’s being grown or produced locally, using local farms and local farmers’ markets where possible.
Bonus: Grow some of your own food. You don’t need an allotment or even a garden – grow herbs, fruit and vegetables in pots (window sill or garden), or join others in your community to cultivate gardens together.”
Recently I discussed the topic of food miles and shared that as a vegetarian of 20 years, I’d started eating some locally reared, organic chicken. I had been trying to reconcile the fact that rice and lentils comes from the other side of the world in non recyclable packaging. Local meat bought organically comes in a tiny amount of packaging I can recycle easily with minutiae food miles. Check out “Which is better, local meat or global lentils”
Vegan or local?
Small Footprints shared some great links under the umbrella of ‘locavore vs vegan‘ which outlined compelling information in favour of eating a vegan diet. The main argument being the amount of energy and food needed to feed animals could be used to feed humans – i.e. cut out the middle man! Reduce footprints pointed out that local food also needs transportation and it might mean more trips because a small producer cannot shift a lot of food at once. So maybe lentils from across the world are better in terms of footprint than local meat. She reckoned the emissions per pound were less with the non-local plant based foods. Thought provoking isn’t it?
Both Tartankiwi and Mags helped me look at things from the producers view point. Tartankiwi showed how the media and making assumptions can be damaging to livelihoods. In a recent example, Brits were told to stop buying NZ kiwi fruits due to air miles. However, the article was completely wrong as kiwi fruits are sent to Britain by ship and the carbon emissions involved are minimal. In fact they are a lot less than transporting many products around Britain by road.
Mags, who keeps sheep points out that if people didn’t buy their meat the countryside would look very different and that whatever we buy, it produces jobs and livelihoods for people who are grateful for our custom.
Whether or not being vegan or eating local meat is better I don’t really know, but I think we can all agree that eating a local, seasonal diet is best for our health and the environment.
I’m extremely fortunate to live near some great resources for local food. There is my beloved organic shop – I can buy local produce, organic meat and every day organic grocery items such as flour, beans and grains.
Over the hill we have an orchard which is open half of the year. We can get soft fruits in the summer and apples and pears in the autumn. It’s not certified organic but the farmer utilises as few sprays as possible and it’s all from less than a mile away!
We have a local cheese maker and can buy eggs and bread from our butcher.
For the things I cannot get locally I use a food co-operative which is the next best thing. It keeps my money away from large, greedy corporations and I’m able to buy things in bulk with a saving of around 25%.
We also have local farmers markets, but you know, I’ve never even visited ours because I can get everything I need pretty close by. It’s not to say I do not use a supermarket at all; I do – regularly, but at least more than half my food comes from local places which makes me feel good, supports my local producers and helps reduce my carbon footprint. My aim is to increase my reliance on small, local producers and decrease the amount I give to the supermarkets.
In addition we grow a little – potatoes, tomatoes, courgettes, beans, herbs and salad. We’re working on growing more, but it takes time and planning…
Local eating links
I have some great links for you:
Find your local farmers market
Discover where to pick your own!
Find your nearest farm shop
Discover what that strange looking object in your vegetable box is and learn how to use it with Veg Box recipes
Order yourself a vegetable box
Learn what is in season with Eat Seasonably
Find your local Country Market
Follow my friend Julie as she delves into her veg box each week and assembles an inspiring meal
What about you – how much of your food is local? Do you grow your own?
A really nice pot and so important to support local producers. I love vegetable boxes, they force me to think about different recipes rather than buying the same old things each week. I do find farmers markets quite expensive, but maybe that is a london thing.
@nazima: Love that you have a veg box, it makes you more creative I think and there’s something about valuing the food more too.