America is trapped in a food paradox. We walk down the aisles of the supermarket and are literally bombarded by thousands of choices of what to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, despite these seemingly endless options, our choices are frighteningly limited to food that has traveled thousands of miles after being highly processed.
The typical American meal contains ingredients from at least five countries outside the United States, according to Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at London’s Thames Valley University. This food travels up to 1500 miles, creating a global system of inefficiency. With rising fuel costs affecting food prices, it seems this economy of confusion is getting worse – but there is a way out:
Markets respond to levels of demand, and the food industry is not immune to consumer control. When you vote with your food dollars, the market will respond to the desires of the consumer – to your choices. If we are able to exercise our choice by picking fresh, local organic foods and products, we can turn the tables on this American Paradox, and keep our options open to what we really value:
- The best taste, freshness, and nutrition – buying local means gaining access to food picked fresh, and farmers are able to focus on breeding varieties for taste and quality.
- The power to support and strengthen our local economy – buying local keeps your food dollars in the community while supporting farmers you trust. When you cut out the middlemen, more of your dollar goes directly to the farmer.
- Protect our environment and the resources of our planet for future generations by reducing carbon emissions of food transportation and packaging, as well as limiting harmful byproducts of pesticides.
The great news is that making a major impact on your local and global environments doesn't require extra time, money, or drastic changes to your way of life. When you buy locally and sustainably, you have the ability to reflect your values in the purchases you make, and help to create the world you want to live in.
By making simple shifts in the Food We Buy we can tackle world issues, take steps towards healing environmental damage, save money in a fragile economy, while strengthening our communities and our bodies… All at the same time.
By focusing on your immediate needs (and everyone needs to eat!) you can set off a positive chain reaction that has global impacts. From your body and your budget, to your city, the nation and the world, eating locally is a remedy for a planet in which everything is connected.