By Katie Uhl
You may have recently heard of a term in the news: “locavore.” This new word is used to describe someone who eats food locally grown or produced in their region. This is a new trend in the environmental movement to decrease the carbon emissions per person and create a sustainable food system.
The close proximity decreases the transportation by trucks, trains, and sometimes planes required to get the food from the farm to the consumer, also known as “food miles”. Think of what you’ve eaten today. Did you have a banana from South America? Did you have fish from Alaska? According to Annie Kramer in her article about eating local, most food will travel about 1,500 miles from the farm to your plate (Standford Magazine, 2010). By eating locally, you can decrease the gas and energy expenditure for the food while also helping the local economy by supporting local farmers (Sustainable Connections, 2010).
There is no set definition of what is “local,” but the general guideline from SustainableTable.com is eating food that was grown within a 100-mile radius to you or at a farm that is less than half a day’s drive away. Eating locally also includes buying from bakeries, creameries, and other specific food producers in your area. Ohio, being an agricultural state, has no shortage of farms. The Ohio Farm Bureau claims we have 14.3 million acres of farmland (Ohio Farm Bureau, 2014).
Even in a metropolitan area like Columbus, there are many options available to families and students at The Ohio State University. Obviously, the best and easiest way to eat locally is to go to farms very close to you, which you can visit often, and that have an array of products (unless, of course, you are the farm. Then you win the blue ribbon for eating locally). Farmers’ markets have been springing up all over the country, so you may be able to find some in your area. Check out “How To Eat Locally” for information on eating locally in the Columbus area.
Benefits of Eating Locally
If you like good food and Mother Nature, then you should look into eating locally. Not only does it save energy on transportation, purchasing food from local farmers often tastes better because it was picked just hours before bringing it home. In-season fruits and vegetables will have brighter flavors and can take your dishes to the next level. Not only will your taste buds be happier, your community can be happier, too. Money spent on local businesses will recirculate within the community and strengthen the economy. Some people may think that it is more expensive to eat locally, but it is often a cheaper option. Visit www.timptations.com/benefits.html to see how much money can be saved every week buying local food.
Eating locally can save jobs and farmland in your region, too. Of course, you can’t forget that it is a sustainable habit. It saves carbon emissions and energy in so many ways, and having a local food system that can provide for the future generations can ensure the prosperity of our communities.
Frequently Asked Questions Education & Reference Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF). (n.d.). Frequently Asked Questions Education & Reference Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF). Retrieved February 25, 2014, from http://ofbf.org/education-and-reference/faq/
Kramer, A. (n.d.). Eat Local, Save Energy: Essential Answer.Stanford Magazine. Retrieved February 14, 2014, from http://alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/magazine/article/?article_id=29277
Local & Regional Food Systems. (n.d.). GRACE Communications Foundation. Retrieved February 19, 2014, from http://www.sustainabletable.org/254/local-regional-food-systems
Why Eat Local? (n.d.). Sustainable Connections. Retrieved February 18, 2014, from https://sustainableconnections.org/foodfarming/eatlocal/whyeatlocal
Evans, A. (n.d.). It’s Farmers’ Market Time – 2013. ColumbusUndergroundcom RSS. Retrieved February 25, 2014, from http://www.columbusunderground.com/its-farmers-market-time-2013