For many of us city dwellers it is very easy to completely forget where our food comes from. We go to the grocery store to get our food, and we have no connection to the farms that grew the plants and raised the animals. And often those farms are thousands of miles away, frequently in other countries. Think of all the fossil fuel burned in order to deliver the food to your grocery store! If we care about the planet and global warming, perhaps we can make more of an effort to search out local food by supporting farmer’s markets, for example. Local produce, even if it is not organic, will taste much better, have vastly increased nutrient value because it will be picked ripe and sold fresh within hours, and it will have a much reduced environmental impact not only because of the shorter distances traveled but also because this action supports local family farms rather than the huge multinational agri-business monopolies that have a terrible environmental record. By supporting and getting to know our local farmers, we know exactly where our food comes from, and we are encouraging biodiversity because family farmers are more likely to grow interesting, different varieties of food. For example, supermarkets that are stocked by agri-business might have only three or four varieties of apples, but if one shops locally, one may discover several-hundred other kinds. And of course, by shopping locally we are supporting our local economy.
Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon took this idea to the extreme, and for one year, only ate food that was grown or raised within 100 miles of their home in Vancouver, BC, Canada. They are challenging you to make a commitment to making sure every ingredient is from a local source for one meal, one day, one week – whatever feels right to you. Read about their food adventure at The 100 Mile Diet. What an interesting, inspirational website! Their stories, and the philosophical inquiries and ethical dilemmas that they faced while going through the year make for a fabulous read. This concept of choosing local can also give one an appreciation for the challenges our ancestors faced living through all the seasons, by making do with what the land provided for everything from food to shelter to clothing. One can see how our ancestors lived in ways that sustained themselves and the planet, and when we look at our convenience-driven lives that are completely destroying our health and our Earth, I think it is worth adopting some of the traditional ways of living.
Approximately 58% of the farms make less than $10,000 a year and must supplement their income off the farm. The mega-commercial farms only make up 7% of the number of farms but produce 70% of total farm sales, by sacrificing the wellbeing of the animals, the quality of the food, and the health of the planet, all in the name of maximizing profits. These large factory farms are not sustainable and cause huge amounts of groundwater pollution. Large numbers of animals are packed into tiny spaces for the duration of their lives, are fed "food" that fattens them up as opposed to their natural diet, so they get sick. They are fed antibiotics, which is one of the major reasons we have such a problem with resistance to antibiotic drugs . For more information on the problems with factory farms, enjoy The Meatrix about the meat and poultry industry and The Meatrix II Revolting about the dairy industry, two fun cartoons based on the movie The Matrix. Most of the meat and dairy in our supermarkets come from these factory farms, so let’s speak with our dollars! Choose the sustainable alternative by supporting local organic or biodynamic farms that produce free-range meats, eggs and dairy and grow a diversity of produce. If we stop buying the factory farm products, we can make a huge difference to the health of our bodies and the health of our world.
Fallon, Sally and Enig, Mary; Nourishing Traditions, Revised 2nd Edition NewTrends Publishing Inc., Washington, D.C., 2001.
Chek, Paul; You Are What You Eat CD Series Chek Institute, San Diego, CA, 2002.
Chambers, Judy, personal communication, online www.dynamicbynature.com
Online The Sustainable Table
Online The 100 Mile Diet