Eat Local Now For Earth Day is Not Just the One Day

April 24, 2012 at 8:06 am

The earth celebrated Earth Day the other day, and all around the earth events took place to highlight our precious state and encourage greater care.  Did you think about changing the way you eat?  We’ve been telling you all April that now is the time to become a local family.  We told you that this Local Family began its local food journey after many trips to the Oak Park Farmer’s Market, where we constantly found ourselves wowed by the offerings.  We bought like crazy.  And if we kept on buying food like crazy, we had to do something with it.  Yet, at some point in the year, the market stopped.  We kept on being a Local Family.  It helps to have a little motivation.

One of the things that motivated us towards being a Local Family was the impact, tiny as it may be, on the earth, by eating local.  This Local Family firmly believes that when we eat local food, we eat food that tastes a lot better, but we also eat food that tastes a lot better for the environment.   The first thing a lot of people think when they think enviromental impacts of eating local is the idea of “food miles”, the distance it takes for food to get to your table.  Google food miles, however, and you will see the notion rife for debate.  In fact, I bet you’ll find it easier to find articles “debunking” food miles than you will find articles supporting food miles.  Go see for yourself.  I will tell you that, personally, I don’t find the arguments against food miles persuasive.  And if you start scratching the surface of the anti-food mile arguments, you’ll find a lot of questions too.  We do think we make an impact by eating local.

Still, as most eat local fans will tell you, it’s not just about food miles.  In other words, we do not simply care about how long it takes to get our food.  Eating local essentially means removing yourself from the ordinary ways of food.  When we remove ourselves from the ordinary ways of food we make the most impact on the earth.  You can analyze many environmental issues related to food, like the Leopold Center at Iowa State University does. What goes into food production.  How long does it take to get to you.  How is it packaged.  What does it consist of.  When you eat local you can approach all of these factors.  You gain the ability to make better decisions.  You do not always have to make the best decision.  For instance, we know that meat consumption makes a huge environmental impact.  Can we go with out a steak  (and this sauce).  We like steak.  Now, when we source a local steak, we can learn how the animal was raised, the practices of the rancher.  Does it meet what we we want in our meat.  Eating local allows us to do that as much as possible.  We know only the most ardent, fanatic 100 miler could do that with everything they ate, but some commitment to eating local lets you do it to a lot of what you eat.  The process of eating local allows you to address many environmental issues with food.

April is the time to commit to eating local.  It is the time to commit to Earth Day.  Commit by seeking to understand more about your food.  Find farmers that grow food the way you think it should be grown.  Find farmers that do not use mass quantities of oil drenched fertilizers.  Find farmers that use modern methods to maximize their grazing fields.  Find food that is not all shrink wrapped, individually packaged and partnered with the one number most difficult to recycle.  A lot of people think that eating local limits your choices.  The non-locavore has a whole supermarket to peruse.  We have a farmer’s market, a CSA and a few specialists.  Yet, the supermarket shopper gets the food given to them.  They really have little choice in how it is made.  We do.  We do and we can.  We can by eating local.