Examining the local produce at a
farmers market in Washington State.
food was traditionally grown and eaten locally, with town
squares filled to overflowing with farmer's produce to lure
neighborhood buyers on market day.
Globalization, of course, has changed all that.
fruits and vegetables can be grown using chemicals and genetic
alterations to keep it fresh, foods can be shipped to markets
thousands of miles away.
it is not uncommon to eat a meal with ingredients from three
or four different continents!
And yet, while the global market brings greater variety to local supermarkets, an increasing number of wary shoppers have begun to question the price of such convenience. Not only is the global food market a major
cause of rampant and unnecessary pollution (as food is shipped
halfway around the world), the chemicals
and genetic alterations necessary to give it longer shelf life are also being avoided by the health (and taste) conscious.
An alternative to buying into the mass production of food has increasingly been the community green markets
or farmers' markets located
in large cities or suburban areas now cropping up worldwide.
benefits of buying local
mile diet, food
miles, and low
carbon diets all refer to the same basic concept, which
is that the food we eat should be grown or produced as close
to home as possible.
does the food grown closer to home require little or no additives,
it also saves on fuel energy - and air pollution - that
results from long distance delivery
Sticking to this principle, sometimes it is surprisingly more beneficial to get food shipped from further
away. Growing tomatoes in Spain and shipping
them to the UK, for example, is considered more environmentally friendly,
since artificial light sources are needed
to grow tomatoes in Britain requiring electricity not needed
in sun-drenched Spain.
Generally though, a short distance between where food is grown
and where it is eaten provides benefits to the environment and a fresher,
more nutritious product. It also helps local farmers, who can
now bring their goods to increasingly popular green markets. Meanwhile, smart urban shoppers can also purchase food that is natural, often more vitamin-rich,
and cheaper when grown locally.
information about green markets around the Web:
- Database of local farmers' markets, farm shops, community
gardens, food co-ops, restaurants, bakers and related online
stores offering fresh or organic foods in the US and Canada
searchable by keyword, state or province.
Local Challenge - Group blog by eating local proponents,
with current news and feature reporting.
Harvest.org - Comprehensive US directory of farmers
markets, food cooperatives, and online sources of organic
foods nationwide including related blogs, free newsletter.