Earth day is upon us and I have one goal in mind this year… I want to inspire and provoke our Be Well community to take part in saving our planet by making one simple change: BUY LOCAL FOOD – simple as that! I am certain we often feel overwhelmed by the information circulating about global warming and pollution, and might feel unsure how to help or if our daily choices really make a difference or not. I am here to tell you that they indeed do, and by switching a few habits in your life (one being where and how you purchase your food) you can help reduce your environmental footprint and enjoy other health benefits as well. Here is why:
1) Reduce your Food Miles
By purchasing local food it helps the environment by reducing food miles (fuel consumption = air pollution). Most foods in grocery stores travel over 1500 miles to get there! Also, what most individuals do not realize is that their food is actually losing its nutritional value every day after it has been picked due to respiration. So yes, buying organic at a grocery stores is better than purchasing conventional, but the longer produce travels, the less nutrients it contains. Therefore, eating local = lowering carbon footprint AND better nutrition.
2) Tune Into Nature
When an individual embarks on a journey to commit to eating local, they inevitably become more in tune with nature. How? Farmers markets contain seasonal ingredients. Eating the proper fruits and vegetables for a particular season is natural and more ideal for humans, and most of our bodies actually crave what nature provides each season. In modern society we are so disconnected from our roots and from where our food comes from, so reconnecting to mother nature and eating foods within its natural harvesting cycle is invaluable and reaps multiple health benefits (beyond nutrition alone).
3) Sustainable Farming Methods
Additionally, most small farmers are committed to sustainable and environmentally-friendly agricultural methods (no pesticides or chemical fertilizers) compared to large farms that typically heavily spray and practice monoropping, or the practice of growing a single crop a year. This disrupts the natural process of life and destroys biodiversity while poisoning our soil and wasting valuable resources. Small farmers know the importance of growing varieties of produce to preserve our soil and livestock, and recycle and use less resources.
4) Less Packaging and Waste
Lastly, by purchasing local there is less need for packaging, and therefore less plastic waste and exposure. Plastic pollutes the air, exposes humans to toxic chemicals (which disrupts our endocrine system), pollutes our land and water, and hurts wildlife. Bringing a reusable tote to the market and using reusable bags to store your food in lessens your toxic exposure and reduces landfill waste.
It may not always be possible to eat local, but trying hard to commit to this simple change can make a huge difference to help our planet! Find a farmers market and get to know your local farmers. Join a CSA and help support a small farm owner. Volunteer to help your community start more farms and educate the local children on where their food comes from. Small changes can make a large impact. Be Well community, let’s all join together to support and live in the local food movement! Our planet and our health will thank us. Happy Earth Day! Spread the word!
-Katie Ulrich, Be Well Health Coach