September 19, 2011 at 3:28 pm
Sustainable Living Guest Blogger: Kate Ruffing
1494 miles is the average distance a meal travels to make it to our tables. This means that over the course of a year, the food that fills our bellies must travel to the moon and back over 3 times. That is quite a distance to cover, especially since we can grow food in most regions. Given the high costs, buying local food (which only travels 56 miles to our table by comparison) has been gaining traction.
Local food is better for you, the environment and the economy. But where do you find it?
Maybe you gaze lovingly out your window at the concrete jungle you call home and wonder where you could find local food? Or you are longing for your morning cup of coffee which is not locally grown? Or maybe “local” seems expensive?
First, a bit of myth busting. Our family did some comparison shopping and found that most local products are cheaper than the nationally branded grocery store products. It was an even lower cost when shopping at farmer’s markets. The closer to the farmer you are, the lower the costs as you cut out the middle man. More of the profits also go directly to the farmer, which helps your local economy.
In regard to those staples in our lives (like coffee, tea, chocolate and sugar), unless you live in Hawaii, it is going to be hard to source these ingredients locally. To this I say, “give yourself a break”. I do truly admire people that live the 100 mile diet in Fargo. For us, we source our fruits and vegetables locally and eat our chocolate cake too! But challenge yourself to find substitutes. I have found that local honey makes a great alternative to sugar in my favorite recipes.
For all of us, even those living in the concrete jungle, there are lots of sources for local food.
• Check the grocery aisles (Light green) – Grocery stores are starting to offer local foods. Check labels to know where the food is coming from and ask your grocer to stock more local choices.
• Find a farmer (Medium Green) – Get to know your food and farmer by visiting a Farmer’s Market, U-pick farm, or joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). To find one near you visit http://www.localharvest.org/
• Grow your own (Dark Green) - Maybe you don’t have room for a full garden, but a few container pots of your favorite veggies can really help shorten that distance to your plate. Regional growing guide available at http://assoc.garden.org/
Are you ready take on the “eat local” challenge? Try picking one meal a week and source all the ingredients locally. Better yet, have every family member pick a meal to prepare and calculate the distance between your house and the farm. The family member with the lowest “mileage” gets to choose their favorite dish prepared the next week. You will quickly learn it is not difficult to eat locally and you don’t need to travel to the moon and back to get good food.
Follow Kate Ruffing’s Sustainable Living adventures and discover solutions for your family at www.KateRuffing.com