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Fact or Fiction? Buying Local Reduces Carbon Footprints

The word "locavore" — only eating foods produced within 100 miles of where you live — was nonexistent a few years ago, but has since become a part of mainstream vocabulary, particularly in cities like San Francisco and New York.

But a recent piece by Conservation magazine, entitled "The Problem of What to Eat," questions the status quo of whether buying local really does reduce one's carbon emission. It's obvious that local produce has a lower carbon footprint when compared to air-freighted foods, but it's actually unclear when comparing local foods to those arriving by sea, rail, or road.

While there's an interesting point made here, I think the carbon issue is really only one part of eating local. Sure, people eat locally to reduce emissions, but there are other reasons, too: The fresh taste of produce picked that day, the ability to talk to farmers firsthand and learn about the food, the idea that we all have a chance to get a little "closer" to our food. So I'll keep trying to buy local when I can.

How about you? Do you eat locally? If so, what are your reasons for being a locavore?


Join The Conversation
godeats godeats 8 years
mundessa- You need to do a little research and sort out the difference between sustainable and organic. Try for a start. Nine times out of town your local market farmer is raising his produce sustainably. Organic doesn't always mean better. Really. Do a little research and you'll feel much better about shopping locally.
mudnessa mudnessa 8 years
we have quite a few farmers markets in the area but very little organic so im a little torn on whether this is better or not. also i can see the trucks they bring the stuff to and they are pretty old and run down looking, im really torn on this in my area. not to mention when i did buy a bunch of stuff a few weeks ago i got the weirdest looks when i said i had my own bag. not to mention the outrageous prices of the stuff at the farmers market, i would have to double my grocery budget and i cant afford that.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 8 years
Best excuse for not exercising ever! Love it.
shoneyjoe shoneyjoe 8 years
I've decided to cut my carbon footprint by giving up eating. Breathing's next on the list, but I'm working up to it by exercising less, thus breathing less. Those joggers I see every day must really hate the environment, because they insist on running, even though there's no reason to do so, and this increases their respiratory rates, thus increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. For shame!
HappyKate HappyKate 8 years
Thousands of farmers across the globe cannot compete with the crash of prices when a country turns to one main farm product and large companys are the ones setting the price on their produce. This also makes the food that the locals can get very limited and health is decreasing. These same farmers are losing their land and turning to suicide. This is not happening in the states as much but it is a very real issue that the states contributes to as much as other factors. It is more complicated than my short paragraph, but it is bad. Buying local is not just about the environment or a fresh taste (although that is a big plus!, it helps save these peoples lively hoods. Anyways rant done (I am just learning about all this myself)... yay local! :}
godeats godeats 8 years
Huge proponent of local food here-- promoting local food is how I make a living. One of the other major benefits to buying local food is the reduced safety concerns. Importing food from other countries means we have less control over their standards and practices. Being able to walk my local farmer's fields and deal directly with the family that operates my CSA let's me know that my food is pesticide free, sustainable raised and harvested by well-paid and cared for labor--plus more of my dollar stays in my local economy.
LaurenG22 LaurenG22 8 years
I love buying locally. You can ask then how they treat their produce and meat and you can fgeel like you are helping the economy.
Soniabonya Soniabonya 8 years
I tend to buy most of my fruit and veggies at farmer markets, or roadside stands that say they are locally grown. Hello cherry stands on 101 south. The Milk Pail in Mountain View/Los Altos is like a small european market and very reasonably priced. got a basket worth of food for less than $30. the fruits and veggies may not all be completely local but if it's produced in the USA i'm okay :)
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i try to eat locally grown foods but it's not ALWAYS possible. i think that there's really a benefit of buying products that come from farmers in the area since it stimulates their revenue, and yes, a fresh tomato is really a LOT tastier than one that is preserved somewhat to be shipped from far away.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 8 years
I like the idea of buying local. DC has a couple of farmers markets that are nearby to where I live. The problem is that farmer's markets around here are so trendy that they can completely rip you off, and they do. Some vendors at the farmer's market sell their food in our local Wholefoods as well. A the farmer's market, there is generally a 25-50% markup on the same exact food. I don't understand why that is but it seems like they just do it because people are willing to pay for the experience of being at the outdoor market. In any case, all else equal, I agree with getting local food for taste.
mlen mlen 8 years
i admit we mostly go to a supermarket but some things we definitely go to farm stands for in the summer- usually corn on the cob and strawberries!
partysugar partysugar 8 years
I buy locally as often as possible for one simple reason: the stuff tastes better!
pinkerbell03 pinkerbell03 8 years
We try to buy local as much as possible. Not only does it cut down on gas, oil, C02, etc, but we love supporting little local farms. Unfortunately we have moved to a super rural little town in the middle of nowhere, but we still try to buy farmers market produce as often as we can.
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