The environmental benefits of buying locally

The concept of a carbon footprint isn’t new to a lot of people. A carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by a particular person. Now a multitude of different factors go into this number but one of the components that is often overlooked is food and diet. Food miles is the term used to express how far your food is traveling from the beginning of production to when it ends up on your plate. For example, a lot of bananas that are eaten in America come from Panama and travel over 2,000 miles before ending up in your kitchen. To travel all that way increases the food miles and therefore the carbon footprint of that food. So buying locally produced foods is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to reduce your carbon footprint. When looking at the food miles of what you’re eating, it’s also important to consider how it got to where it is now. Flying one ton of food is almost 70 times more carbon intensive than transporting the same weight via cargo ship. As a result, local foods are more important for perishable foods that are often flown like berries or vegetables that aren’t harvested before ripening. While it sounds pretty straightforward, food systems today are anything but. The carbon usage of a certain food is also greatly affected by the production of it. Food miles are really only telling you distance. For example, tomatoes grown in heated greenhouses sometimes have a higher carbon footprint than tompatos importanted from hotter countries even including the extra transport. That’s why it’s also important to consider eating seasonally. Seasonal food is generally fresher and more nutritious than food consumed out of season. Also, unlike out-of -season produce which is often harvested earlier in order to be shipped to the retailer, when crops are picked at the peak ripeness, they have a better flavor and studies have even shown that they contain more nutrients when allowed to ripen naturally on their plant. These are just a few of the myriad of different reasons why buying locally grown foods, is not only better for the environment but often is cheaper, and healthier than a lot of grocery store alternatives.

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