Author: Alexandra Kent
ABSTRACT: Eating locally is seen as a sustainable option when buying and consuming your food. While this is true in many ways, there are other factors to consider when trying to create as little negative effects on the environment as possible.
One of the arguments on the side of local food is with distance and delivery. On average, foods produced on a mass scale, travel 1500 miles from where the food is grown or manufactured to its designated grocery store and then to its consumer. These mass-produced foods grown miles away, create 5-17 times more greenhouse gases than locally produced food. Just to give you an idea of how far locally produced food travels, the 2008 Farm Act ruled food could be seen as local if it had travelled less than 400 miles from where it was grown or created. Some consumers even go as far to say that food that has only travelled 100 miles from where it was produced is local. They refer to this as the 100-mile diet. In the end, to sum up how distance and delivery relates to sustainability, the less mileage food ends up traveling from its original farm/factory, the less fossil fuels are used. This therefore reduces greenhouse gas emissions in the long run.
Another thing to think about when buying local food are the increased nutrients and organic products available. In Canada, food practices ensure the strict regulation of pesticides, additives, and herbicides. Because of decreased travel, vegetables and fruit have more time to ripen, therefore just tasting better and being safer to eat. Vegetables such as Broccoli, Green Beans, Kale, Red Peppers, Tomatoes, Apricots and Peaches all lose their nutrients incredibly easily, when stored for long durations of time. This can happen when they are shipped far distances.
Fruit and vegetables aside, Canada’s food practices have also made it illegal to give growth hormones to pigs, poultry, or dairy cows in Canada. This means that just by eating food grown/produced in Canada (if that is where you live) could be another sustainable way of eating. Another upside to buying local is community. Buying locally obviously benefits local farmers and businesses, therefore benefitting your local economy. More jobs are created as well as a built community where local money stays. It’s also beneficial as a consumer to see where your food is coming from and how it is grown and produced. You yourself can make sure you’re comfortable with the ecological practices that occur when your food is made.
One thing I found throughout this research is that by just eating locally, our environment will not be completely saved. Locally or not, any kind of produced food makes up 83% of greenhouse gas emissions. Fertilization of fields, plowing, irrigation, pesticides, and manure management also all play a part in CO2 emissions. One kind of fertilizer, nitrogen fertilizer, produces nitrous oxide emissions which are almost 300 times stronger than CO2 emissions. As well as this, the digestive processes of cows and sheep produce methane emissions which are 25 times stronger than CO2 emissions. These kinds of fertilizers are used in the dairy and meat industries as well. In order to feed livestock, farmers also need to grow enough food to feed the cows to either create enough meat on them or keep them alive long enough to produce milk. Along with this, red meat produces 150% more greenhouse gases than chicken and fish. By just reducing our meat and dairy intake or even by just going vegetarian, we can reduce a greater amount of our CO2 emissions than just eating locally.
“The Benefits of Eating Local Foods.” Food and Dining Services, 6 Mar. 2012, www.mcgill.ca/foodservices/sustainability/green/local.
4, Renee Cho |September, et al. “How Green Is Local Food?” State of the Planet, 25 Apr. 2019, blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2012/09/04/how-green-is-local-food.
“Local Food Movement.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/local-food-movement.
“Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.” Ontario’s Local Food Report 2016/2017 Edition, https://www.ontario.ca/page/ontarios-local-food-report-2016-2017-edition
Written by Stephanie Osmanski, Reporter. “Eating Locally Grown Food Is Good for Your Body and the Environment.” World Economic Forum, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/08/this-is-how-create-sustainable-version-agriculture