Editor’s Note: As we celebrate the Earth today, I have to admit that I am ALWAYS thinking about food. With 7 billion people on the planet, keeping everyone fed and healthy is a big issue that I often find myself trying to wrap my head around. That’s a lot to take in. But, what goes on your dinner table is a bit less complicated to think about. Putting local goodness into your meals is good for you, good for the community and good for the planet. Here’s a post from Earth Day 2009 that gives us the scoop on why eating local is of planetary significance.
Happy Earth Day!
It’s Food & Your Family day here at Our Big Earth. With all the talk around food sustainability and the ever-increasing prices at the grocery store these days, there are a lot of questions about why local food is such a big deal.
There are a ton of scientifically significant reasons why food that is grown local is not only better for you, but for the planet.
The scary news about pesticide loads and global warming are enough to make us all want to get back into the garden or make sure we’re up early Saturdays for the Comox Valley Farmers Market.
But, sometimes all of that tough information makes us throw up our hands and think “Why bother?”
Here’s a Top 10 list that comes at local eating from a community-based perspective:
TOP 10 REASONS TO EAT LOCAL AS A FAMILY
10. Price. You may think that a joke at first. But, truly, local food can be less expensive. Buying straight from the farm market like out at Pattison Organics or Seaview Game Farm means you cut out the middle man entirely. And, while things may not always be organic, you can find spray-free veg and antibiotic-free meat more easily, reducing your grocery bill. This leads quite nicely into the next reason.
9. Friendship. When you know where your food comes from – and who is making it – you find yourself more connected to what you are eating. I love that I can go out the DeeKayTee Ranch and talk with Ryan or Dan about anything they have and they know what’s in it, how it’s produced. There’s a trust factor developed and it’s big, warm fuzzy having spent my food budget with friends.
8. Community. Making the rounds of the farm stands and hitting the Farmers Market is a warm, social time for us and we plan our days to be able to do so. It has shifted the way my family sees the simple act of gathering ingredients for meals entirely. The change from slamming through the grocery store has given us space to build a sense of community around eating that is connective, informative and fun.
7. Education. Learning where food comes from is a fantastic experience for kids and adults alike. Spending a Saturday out on a farm, picking berries in the late Summer, being a part of Community Gardening projects, brings with it an immeasurable education that classrooms and books can’t offer. My best example is our daughter, who has serious issues with eating vegetables from the grocery store, but will eat anything she can personally pick out of a garden.
6. The Economy. This may seem like it goes along with price. But, in the end, shopping local means helping to bolster our regional economy. It’s not quite as tangibly lovely as friendship and community. But, when you buy a head of lettuce from a local farmer, you are feeding a local family, who in turn pays other local people to help them and they are able to continue investing locally. In these times when jobs are disappearing quickly, shopping local is an act of hope.
5. Sustainability. Hand in hand with the economy goes sustainability. By taking your grocery budget and spending it on locally grown, raised and made eats you help sustain this region’s ability to feed itself. Not to be scary, but we live on an island and, in a time of crisis, could easily be cut off from major sources of food. Having our own sustainable resources is critical.
4. Taste. I am in no way kidding you, food made in the Comox Valley tastes better. When we first moved back here, both of us couldn’t believe how much everything tasted like it was supposed to. The tomatoes were vibrant, strawberries bursting, greens spectacular. Seriously, local food is yummy.
3. Variety. I bought purple carrots yesterday, along with swiss chard and arugula – all local. Learning to eat with the seasons and getting into the incredible variety of veg and meat offered locally is a true culinary experience. Plus, it’s fun to experiment and our tiny person will eat anything purple:).
2. Stories. Local food has a great story. Learning the stories of the people who bring local food to you like Ann and Glen from Happy Creek Farm is a great way to get to know what you are eating. Plus, it’s totally fun to sit around the dinner table talking about your food in a “Guess what I did today” sort of way.
1. Your Carbon Footprint. When you eat local food you live lighter on the Earth. Less gas, less chemicals, less waste, less processing. Less is more. I just think about my grandkids. Maybe something as simple as a Saturday morning at the Farmers Market really can give them a greener planet to think about their grandchildren on some day.