Six Ways To Think Globally By Eating Locally

You’re a car pooler, an HOV lane local, a savvy  navigator of public transportation.

You are fully aware of the impact of gas emissions on our environment and carefully manage your ecological footprint, but did you ever consider the mileage on your plate?

 local

The average meal now travels around 1500km from farm to table according to David Suzuki. That is one costly road trip for the produce and environment alike. To put this into perspective, from MindBodyGreen, that means the average North American meal composed of some meat, grain, fruits and veggies, uses 4 to 17 times more petroleum if buying conventional versus buying local ingredients.

Take a look at your breakfast this morning. Where did it come from? Was it picked fresh from your garden, plucked from the your local fruit stands, or pulled from the grocery store aisles? Most supermarkets are supplied by global (national and international) farmers, whereas local growers are based right in the region, reducing the cost of gas, while fueling the community.  Buying locally from farmers markets and fruit stands is a simple, nutritious and delicious means to support our environment and our local economies. Here’s how:

  1. Fueling the food systems
  • The global system uses anywhere from 4 to 7 times as much fuel for transportation, and produces 5 to 17 times more CO2 emissions than regional or local food systems, according to Cornell University.
  • The Center for Agricultural Business reported that in California alone, more
    than 485,000 truckloads of fresh fruit and vegetables leave the state
    every year and travel from 100 to 2,100 miles to reach their destinations.
  • What you can do:
    • When buying local, the gas emissions from transportation are dramatically reduced. It is simply you driving, or better yet, walking or biking, and the transport from farm to the fruit stands.

fruit stand

2. More Nutritional Bang For your Buck

  • Conventional produce is picked before its prime to avoid spoiling on the long distance it travels for distribution to supermarkets.
  • Furthermore, fresh food can lose up to 50% of nutrients 3-5 days after harvest. So if our food is lacking nutrients in the first place, then is losing many of these nutrients on the way to our dinner tables, we’re losing a large portion of what we were wanting in the first place; valuable  vitamins and minerals. Thinking globally, we all know the vast expense of health care and the more we incorporate fruits and vegetables rich with nutrients, the more we access the power of preventative health care!
  • What you can do;
    • When you buy locally, you are getting the full spectrum of nutrients from fresh produce, picked ripe from the vines and sold directly to you to diminish nutrient depletion.

3. The Price Is Right

  • Generally far cheaper, as the money is going directly to the support of your local growers. There is no watering down costs to distribute to drivers, the supermarket sellers etc. This money is most likely recycled back into your community to benefit jobs on a local level.

 

eat local

4. TASTE!

  • I’m willing to bet that the main reason so many people think they don’t like veggies is because they aren’t having the true, flavourful vegetable. Take the taste test yourself, particularly with a tomato. What is hard, flavourless and more reminiscent of a rubber ball than a healthful food sold in supermarkets, is plump, juicy and nutritious when picked ripe. We are absolutely spoiled to live in the fruit belt and have a garden overflowing with heirloom tomatoes, but all you need is a visit to your local grower to reap the real taste.
  • Where does this lack of taste “stem” from? Take a look at the freelance article I wrote for EcoEating here: http://ecoeating.ca/case-of-the-tasteless-tomato/

 

5. Less waste

  • Globally, close to half of all food produced is wasted according to David Suzuki. Take the summer strawberry for instance where the average total loss from harvest to the consumer’s table is estimated to be more than 40%!
  • Holistic life hacks;
    • Ask for “seconds” at your local fruit stand. As the misfits of the fruit stands, seconds don’t look as pretty, may be sporting a few bruise spots that need to be sliced off or have an irregular shape. 30% of fruits and vegetables don’t make it onto North American superstore shelves for this very reason. By purchasing these perfectly good fruits, you will save yourself money and also decrease the waste of them potentially being tossed away.

 

veggie basket

6. Better Biodiversity

  • Smaller run, local farmers are far more likely to utilize the practises of crop rotation for more sustainable agriculture. This means rotating many varieties of crops which makes them more resilient against disease without using pesticides and promotes healthy soil. Conventional produce on the other hand, is often the practise of mono-culture which creates a vast host of issues leading to a need for increased pesticide use.

 

There are SO many perks to going local that extend beyond this list, from developing a greater sense of connection to our food, to getting one on one interactions and making friendships unlike you would in the grocery line. Instead of a quick “hello”, scan through of food, grab your money and go scenario, local farms encourage an open and friendly atmosphere and many of the workers work all week. It’s the ample opportunity to grow friendships while you grab your fresh picked peaches.

Diets rich in nutritious fruits and vegetables are cooperatively the healthiest for ourselves and the environment. This is true plan(e)t powered eating.  Fresher, tastier and better for both the consumer and local communities, you have every reason you need to grab your reusable shopping bags and head out to your local farmers market!

Suzanne Eden

Earth Day & Birthdays // 5 Small Steps To Small Ecological Footprints

Happy (belated) Earth Day readers!

It was a busy week from reunions to yesterday’s CN tower climb and  Wednesday was consumed by  a flurry of chocolate and coconut flour and strawberries to make this cake for a very special birthday, but I still can’t resist an Earth Day inspired post!

 

cake

A holistic lifestyle is all encompassing and stretches well beyond our plates. It is both wonderful and terrifying to comprehend the profound impact we make on our ecosystems through the simple act of eating, which we do everyday, three times a day and I am adamant about not only eating for our own health but for the health of the planet.  Afterall, it is our responsibility to be green both on and off our plates and the wonderful thing is that it can be easy with small steps to small ecological footprints!
beach bends
Just imagine what would happen if we flipped our perspective to see every meal, three times a day, 365 days a year as the ripe opportunity to stand up for what we stand on. These are a few “piece of gluten-free, dairy-free cake” ways to start making a profound difference immediately, towards a more sustainable way of eating that benefits our bodies and planet alike and with that;

Here are a few of my favourite holistic life hacks for a healthy diet and healthy planet!

1. Eat Whole – Plan(e)t Powered

  • Americans discard an estimated 570 million pounds of food packaging every single day! And let’s face it, much of that packaging  is entirely unnecessary.  This excessive packaging of processed foods is typically comprised of unsustainable materials and energy intensive processes.
  • Whole food requires no packaging or processing. It’s simply real food as nature intended and the only “waste” is the scraps that are fed to your guinea pig or decompose to provide nutrients to our soil.

wholefood salad

2. Utilize reusable bags (or oversized purses)

  • The second option here is one of the many perks of having a purse the size of a shopping bag, especially when you’ve forgotten the reusable one at home or are attempting to sneak healthy snacks (or entire steak dinners if you were so inclined) into the movie theater. But men, you can stick to the reusable bags if you’d like.
  • Plastic bags take anywhere from 15-1000 years to decompose! What’s more, they are estimated to cost us around 12 million barrels of oil a year to produce and only about 15% of these bags are recycled world-wide. What happens to them? If not recycled they end up in landfills and oceans.

3. BPA plastic free (non pavement proof) mason jars

  • Ah, mason jars, my favourite! I use them for just about everything; water, kefir water, culturing sauerkraut, or portable salads, you name it! With glass, you don’t have to worry about toxic compounds such as BPA that leach from plastics. They also last much longer, provided you don’t test their resiliency on your car dealership’s parking lot pavement.
  • Tossable, plastic water bottles use a considerable amount of fossil fuel from both production and transportation and wind up filling our landfills. Bonus: by using reusable water bottles you save money too!

mason jars

The above is true “vitamin water” with blueberries | Lemon | Garden mint leaves

4. Pass on the plastic

  • It is easy to bring a reusable bag (or purse) but what about the sneaky plastics that find their way home with you? Simple! When shopping, take a pass on the little plastic produce bags. You will have to wash your fruits and vegetables regardless, save the plastic and throw the goodies right into your cart!

5. Eat local and in season

  • According to David Suzuki, the average meal currently travels 1200 km from the farm to plate.  One of the best ways to reduce the costly pollution from transportation and give you the most bang for your buck for health is to eat local and in season as much as possible. As Micheal Pollan once said:

“Skake the hand that feeds you”

  • When food is picked to travel distances, it is picked before its prime to avoid spoiling on the long trip over. This, however, is against nature’s design and will show up in the nutrient value (or lack thereof). When you buy local and in season you are eating foods that you were designed to eat at that time and they are picked in their prime! Perk: this typically offers greater taste as well!

storm

Eating should be at one with our environment and feed not only our own health and vitality but also the sustainability of our Earth and it’s a piece of holistic cake! These are just 5 ways you can make to have a big impact with a few small changes. Afterall, Earth Day truly is everyday 🙂

Stepping towards a smaller footprint,

Suzanne Eden