It seems like the words, “Reduce your carbon footprint,” are everywhere these days. But what does that really mean? The definition of carbon footprint is, “the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels by a particular person, group, etc.” But how can we reduce ours? Well, one way is eating locally.
Eating locally means eating food that is locally produced, and not moved long distances to market- usually around 100 miles of the point of purchase or consumption. It may not sound like a big deal, but there are numerous benefits to this lifestyle – not just to the planet, but to you as well.
Most people do not think about this, but most of your food travels thousands of miles before it ends up in your local grocery store. Once foods like produce are packaged, their nutritional level starts to decrease. There could be other factors such as exposure to artificial light and air and temperature changes. Also, produce that is packaged and shipped are picked earlier, which means they are not able to ripen all the way. This is so they do not spoil during transportation. Local foods are also seasonal. For example, when you buy strawberries in winter, they are either shipped from halfway around the world or they are artificially ripened with gases. And did you know that local food can have amazing health benefits? For example, local honey can help with seasonal allergies. This is because it is unprocessed, and still contains pollen. It can act as a vaccine, and help your body build up a tolerance. With local food, it is also less likely that your food will be contaminated, as there is less time between farm to table.
Another reason to eat locally is to help your economy. When you buy local, your money stays within your community, instead of going to a big corporation. It fuels new employment and job opportunities within your community. Also, buying locally preserves farmland. Just as our ancestors thousands of years ago, we still depend on the land for our survival. Without it, we would not have anything- fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, etc. With hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland lost every year to commercial and housing development, we cannot afford to lose any more.
Now that you know all the benefits, it might be a good idea to look up to see if you have any Farmer’s Market’s or Co-ops in your area!
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