Buying local has appealed to health-conscious consumers for decades. Many appreciate knowing where their food comes from and cultivating deep relationships with local farmers. However, a farm-to-table lifestyle also has far-reaching benefits for the environment. This roundup will introduce 5 of the most important ways farm-to-table eating can help fight climate change.
Fresh, Tasty, and Chemical-Free
On larger industrial farms, fertilizer throws off the balance of nearby water supplies and causes rampant bacteria, algae, and disease. In addition, there is evidence that consuming foods treated with chemical pesticides pose a health risk.
Farm-to-table eating provides delicious and healthy food free of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. In fact, many small farmers take pride in their organic and sustainable methods. This arrangement benefits the people who eat the food and the environment that grows it.
Local Farmers Promote Biodiversity
Industrial monocropping farms take a heavy toll on the local wildlife. Studies have long documented the damage to plant and animal habitats caused by our food system.
However, local people run local farms. These owners and laborers make it their business to know the local ecosystem and often work with it to grow the best possible produce. For example, they use alternative pest control like bats, birds, and certain types of insects native to the area. As a result, local farmers promote biodiversity, whereas mega-farms impede it.
Local Tomatoes Need Less Diesel
Supporting small farmers is a great way to boost the local economy by keeping wealth in the community. However, the accompanying environmental benefit is enormous.
Many foods you might purchase at a grocery store have traveled more than 1400 miles to get there. Unfortunately, this mobility comes at the price of fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. You may lessen the impact of your food on the environment by cutting down these miles to zero (or almost zero).
Another less discussed benefit is reduced energy consumption for processing, cleaning, packaging, and refrigeration. Delicious produce from a local farm bypasses all those environmental hazards.
Accessibility in Urban Neighborhoods Reduces Emissions
Smaller markets serve smaller communities, and they do it right up close. This proximity cuts down on travel for the customers. It's much easier for many city dwellers to reach small farm stands and markets than large grocery chains. Studies have also shown that urban produce markets promote community and civic engagement.
Large grocery chains are often far from urban residential areas due to space requirements. The unfortunate result is that many residents drive or take public transportation out of their neighborhoods to grocery shop, increasing their own carbon footprint. On the other hand, sticking to small local markets keeps people closer to home.
Keeping the Local Workforce Local
Employing a local workforce benefits the social environment, but it also helps reduce carbon emissions. For example, when the money you spend at a farmers' market pays the wage of a local worker, it keeps them close by while they plant, monitor, harvest, process, and sell the food.
Looked at another way, with your support, local farm workers don't have to travel out of the community for employment. It reduces their carbon emissions and leaves them free to spend their own earnings in the community, keeping the wealth generated by their farm where it benefits the people nearby.
- Seek Inspiration – Shopping local can actually broaden your horizons. View unknown ingredients with an open mind, and ask the farmer for information on what they are and how to prepare them. You might just find a new favorite food that's native to your area!
- Pay Attention – Especially to labels on animal products. Livestock is also part of the environment, and you should reward farmers who treat it respectfully. Avoid any trace of antibiotics, inappropriate feed, or inhumane treatment.
- Know the Local Ecosystem – Not every farmer at a local market is running a sustainable operation. Many will bring in produce that is out of season in your area. If you know what plants are native and when they are ready for harvest, you can spot items that are not truly local.