Why is Local Food so Important!

Hello everyone! Last Blog I talked about why Organic food costs more than conventional food. So Now it  seems like the ripe time to talk about local food and how it can  make life easier in many ways.

Some may be reading this and say what is Local Food!
Well it seems Local Food doesn’t really have one firm definition, practically speaking, Local Food can start with growing food at home in a garden or growing herbs on your window sill. The next way to grow locally could be growing in your immediate community-then state, region, and lastly, your country. Many believe the first two are the most important.

When we go to the Super Market to shop, did you know the average one item travels 1500 miles to get to you. A big part of Pollution in the US is transporting food across the country. It seems like common sense to produce much of our food locally whenever possible, and of course to buy Local Food. We can buy locally by purchasing from Farmers Markets, CSA’s ( Community Supported Agriculture), or by buying local food sold at Super Markets. Generally buying food within 200 miles or within your state is considered local, usually the closer the better, this helps for better tasting food also.

Local Food is normally Harvested and sold within a few days, thus providing more nutritious food. Many farmers and Locavores ( people that get a large portion of their food locally) claim this is why the food ( usually organic) almost always tastes better, because of the higher nutritional value. Food loses it nutritional value the longer it goes before being eaten after it is harvested.

During World war II it was estimated that that 40% or 1 in 2.3 people had a Garden ( they called them Victory Gardens). Many kids are picky eaters, as I was myself, we get used to chemically enhanced processed food, we dont really know how good food can taste. Some parents are now starting to show their children how to grow food in the family garden. I have personally heard of children who like tomatoes out of the garden so much, they eat them like they are candy.

I myself can pick lettuce and just start eating it without putting anything on it. When I eat greens, ( romain lettuce, spinach, big lettuce etc.) it seems to have a calming effect on me, the more I need them ,the more calmness I feel while and after eating them, they have so many nutrients in them, phytonutrients, antioxidants, just to name a few.

Local Sustainable ( Low or Non chemically treated ) farming benefits the Local Community and Local economy while supporting the environment, by enriching the soil, protecting air and water quality, and minimizing energy consumption. Industrial food production in so many ways is entirely dependent on fossil fuels, which potentially creates green house gasses that are significant contributors to Global Warming. The biggest part of fossil fuel use in Industrial farming isn’t transporting food or fueling machinery, its in the chemicals . As much as 40 % of energy used in this type of farming goes toward the Production of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

If we add food transportation, processing and packaging to the food system equation, the fossil fuel and energy use puts a tremendous strain on our environment. It is estimated if we Locally grow 10% more produce for consumption in the state of Iowa for example, it would result in an annual savings of anywhere from 280,000 to 346,000 gallons of fuel, and an annual reduction in co2 emissions ranging from 6.7-7.9 million pounds, in that state alone.

A few interesting studies have shown that sustainable agriculture practices can actually increase food production by up to 79%, while at the same time actively reducing the effect of farming on climate change through Carbon Sequestration. ( absorbing Co2)

Many people believe going back to Local and smaller scale farming has a great potential to reduce and possibly reverse the impact on climate change ( Global warming) in so many ways.

There are  areas  and communities all over the US, where people are working on getting Permits for Chickens, ducks, goats, so they can raise their own food, for themselves and for their communities. People are working on becoming self-sufficient, to not rely totally on government and  large scale farms, they are actually creating in many ways food security for themselves.  These people are raising chickens for their eggs, and sometimes for their meat, ducks for  their eggs. Ducks are unique, for people who are allergic to chicken eggs after they consume them,  most of the time aren’t allergic to duck eggs, they usually tollerate them better.

Many communities are showing some  interest in Goats! It seems the majority of milk consumption globally is via Goat milk, but in western societies cows milk still wins out.  Goats milk is almost always easier to digest, but instead of being primarily sweet it has a more astringent taste, people might need to get used to the taste if they have never  tried it.  Some people think it is GGGRRRRREEAT!   LOL

 

So lets now move on to a state, that in many ways could greatly use a Local Food movement, actually better yet  a Revolution. This state is our 50th state. Yes you guessed it, its Hawaii! The state encompasses nearly the entire volcanic Hawaii Island chain, which is comprised of hundreds fo Islands spread over 1500 miles. I lived their for almost 4 years in the 80’s, its beauty is stunning!

I would like to talk about Hawaii, because of the fact that Hawaii imports 85% of all its food, some say as high as 90%. ( College of Tropical agriculture and human resources) Hawaii is one of the most Geographically isolated areas in the world. Hawaii is vulnerable to food supply disruptions due to dock strikes, farm production fluctuations in US mainland ( other 49 states). Hawaii can improve its level of food security by producing and consuming locally grown foods.

If Hawaii Replaced 100% of its imports of selected food products ( Beef, Pork, eggs, milk, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables) this would equate to 1.1 billion in sales ( Gross) and would create 14,629 Jobs in Hawaii. It seems if we want to create a stable economy in this country, in many ways we would greatly benefit from transitioning from a broken food system to a more local food system. We must not forget that our Food System is the Back Bone, or better yet the immune system of our country,  a Local Food System will help us heal physically, economically, mentally, and environmentally in so many ways, SO SO SO much potential!!

So in ending I would  like to state what might be the most important reasons for local food, the positive effects it has on the country.

 

1. Buy fresher, more nutritious foods

Locally grown fruits and vegetables are usually harvested within 24 hours of being purchased by the consumer. Produce packed at the height of freshness tastes better. Because locally grown produce is freshest, it is more nutritionally complete.  Nutritional value declines, often dramatically, as time passes after harvest.

2. Reduce Energy Consumption

Locally produced foods do not require significant transportation or storage, both of which are very energy- intensive, expensive and pollute our air and water.

3. Regional Economic health

Buying locally grown foods keeps money within the community. This contributes to the Health of all sectors of the Local economy, increasing the Local quality of Life.

4. Encourage a Self-sufficient community

A community that produces its own food enables people to influence how their food is grown.  In addition, it reduces reliance on far-off food producers, thus stabilizing it’s own food supply.

5. Help Preserve Biodiversity

Farmers selling locally are not limited to the few varieties that are bred for long distance shipping, High yields, and shelf life. Often they raise and sell wonderful heirloom varieties that may be hard to find in supermarkets.

When we shop at local or regional farmers markets, we help enable farmers to keep on average 80 cents of each dollar spent by the consumer. We can solve economic issues, start to clean up our waters, build or rebuild communities, teach children, solve many climate change issues, by healing our very fragile food system. The place to start is locally.  We can be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to our food system.

The next Blog will be on communities that exist here in the US and in other parts of the world, that display an example of living in a eco-friendly and local food community driven way. You might not want to miss this one. Until next time, be well everyone, and remember it can’t hurt to know where your food comes!

 

Your friend,

Bob Kyes

July 9, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

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