Making local foods a part of your diet benefits the overall health of your local food system and environment in many ways.
By creating demand for local foods, you give farmers the incentive and financial capacity they need to raise a diverse variety of produce and livestock. Farmers who practice sustainable methods work with the land and climate to naturally provide a long harvest season, and consistently bring new crops to market throughout the year.
Keeping local farmers in business allows children and generations to come are in touch with what they eat and learn valuable lessons about:
As more and more Canadians live in urban areas much of this vital information is being lost. Only 3% of Canadians currently live on farms, compared to 32% in 1931. The loss of agricultural and environmental knowledge will only further reduce the strength and diversity of the agricultural sector.
Farmers serve as stewards of the land. Its ecological well-being is in their hands. Your financial support empowers them to keep the land healthy and in good shape for the next generation.
By buying local, you are reducing your carbon footprint! Studies suggest that only 10% of greenhouse gas emissions linked to food production comes from the farm itself. The rest are the result of packaging, transporting and marketing the products. Think of the airfreight (generating 50x more CO2 than sea shipping) that got the Peruvian asparagus to your plate in December.
Proximity is one of the biggest advantages of buying local foods. Moreover, many local farmers focus on sustainable, ecologically sound practices, such as:
Excess packaging is a function of Big Food and plastics are certainly not a requirement for healthy food. Industrial food packaging often involves multiple processing facilities at different and distant locations, compounding energy use. Local farmers devote more space to produce than packaging, meaning you pay more for food than the transport and packaging.
Local farms that utilize sustainable practices are committed to safe food processing methods and facilities, as well as the ethical treatment of livestock. Smaller volumes of production imply more control, and drastically reduce the possibilities of illness, contamination and outbreaks. This also reduces the need for antibiotics and harsh chemicals often used in large scale industrial food production to keep foods safe.
Local and diversified food systems help to ensure that food supplies are safe. Communities are less reliant on exports and the increased biodiversity enhances a region’s food supply. Unlike monocropping, should one particular crop fail – it will not spoil the entire harvest.