I have often heard people say, “Shouldn’t we just eat local to reduce our carbon footprint?” or “I get my meat locally which is better than getting it from the grocery store, right?” The data is clear: what we eat is more important than where it comes from, because the carbon footprint of high emission food is mostly in production. Only a fraction come from transportation. But for other important reasons, shopping local is important. Here are the top 6 reasons to find a local green market:
- Fresher, more flavorful, more nutritious produce—local produce is grown seasonally, picked at its peak, and sold immediately. Grocery store produce is picked early, travels long distances, sits in warehouses and then on shelves. It is scientifically proven to be less nutritious.
- No pointless packaging—Generally, produce is sold loose, so no plastic bags, styrofoam containers, or plastic wrap.
- You’re supporting local farmers, producers, and workers—by shopping at farmer’s markets, you’re supporting the local economy and ensuring people producing your food are paid a living wage.
- Better-for-the-earth farming practices— A 2015 study found that 81% of farmers selling at local markets were using regenerative farming practices.
- Shorter distances from field to market means a lower carbon footprint—Even though transportation accounts for only a fraction of emissions, the fact remains: the less travel distance, the less CO2 emissions.
If you’re thinking, “I don’t have time to go to a farmer’s market”, give it a try. There’s a wonderful sense of community there. My kids are nearly always gifted something: a cup of cider, a baked good, a potted flower. It has become a family activity, not a dreaded errand. Most importantly, food just tastes better when you know it’s been raised right.
If you’re thinking, “But isn’t it more expensive?” It depends on where you live and what you’re buying, but industrial farming is the same as fast fashion. When we get something cheaper, it’s almost always because someone else is paying the price (either the people who produce for low wages or the earth as a result of poor farming practices.)
This spring and summer, try shopping at your local farmer’s market and see how you feel
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