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How Does Eating Locally Grown Food Help the Environment

More and more retailers are creating more shelf space to accommodate locally grown food. While that is the case, many people don’t see the connection between making the case for locally grown food and saving the environment.

It seems that consumers and retailers do not agree on what exactly ‘local foods’ are. Enter environmentalists and it only gets confusing.

So what is locally grown food?

For starters, there are no specific regulations that define what locally grown refers to, unlike organic foods. It would appear that each retailer has got their own definition of locally grown foods. For instance, the country’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, defines locally grown as any food sold in the same state as its grown, regardless of state size.

On the other hand, Whole Foods, the largest retailer for organic and natural foods, defines locally grown as foods produced within a proximity of seven hours of any of its stores. PCC Natural markets of Seattle considers whatever is produced in Washington, southern British Columbia and Oregon as locally grown.

Thus, it’s not uncommon to find foods sold as locally grown in one region also being available nationwide. For purposes of simplicity, we can take locally grown to mean anything produced in the same state as it is sold.

Effect on environment

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Obviously, if you’re concerned about what you eat and how it affects the environment, then locally grown foods will make much more sense. For instance, it can be impossible to identify which type of pesticides that were used in the growing process of a certain food product from central America, while you might have more control over the process through which a locally grown product arrived at the shelf.

The case for locally grown food on the environment is made clear by the fact that buying locally grown food removes the need for transportation, or reduces the distance, thus saving on fuel that would otherwise be used during transportation.

According to research by the Leopold center for sustainable agriculture, the average food item treks 1500 to get to the diner table. Think about all the pollution averted and the energy saved when transportation is reduced.

Since farmers who sell directly to consumers avoid packaging (because there‘s no shipping), there’s no need for packaging materials, thus, eliminating the need for producing plastics or paper, and avoids the waste that would have come as a result, which could be hard to recycle. This also makes the food more tasteful.

Local farmers tend to be smaller than large, commercial farmers that sell to multinationals and hypermarkets. As such, small farmers, though not entirely organic, practice more environmentally friendly farming methods that promote biodiversity.

They are less inclined to use chemicals and grow a variety of crops, which is important for long-term food safety measures. So, increase your visits to the farmer’s market as much as you can and help conserve the environment.

Besides buying locally grown , you might like to think about growing your own food. Planting your own garden can be a rewarding experience, and a great way to ensure you eat healthy foods. Imagine picking fresh vegetables right from your backyard!

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