What defines local? There is no predetermined distance, but generally it means purchasing foods that are produced as close to you as possible. The most local you could get would be herbs grown on your windowsill, but it still counts when you buy dairy from a farm that’s a few counties over. In Seattle there’s a restaurant called Local 360, where all of their ingredients are produced within 360 miles of its location.
Local food has a smaller carbon footprint. When you buy food that doesn’t travel as far to get to you, less fuel and energy is used to fill your plate. Right now in my grocery stores all of the apples are from New Zealand- that’s a lot of jet fuel wasted for a measly piece of fruit!
Local food is fresher, so it tastes better. Foods purchased directly from the producer at a farmer’s market are only a few days (or maybe even a few hours) old. Foods at a grocery store have usually travelled for at least two weeks before they make it to the shelves. Which would you rather eat?
Shopping locally supports your local economy. When you purchase local foods you’re putting money back into your own community. Help create industry in your hometown by investing in it with your grocery dollars!
A surefire place to find fresh local foods is at the farmer’s market. Find one near you through Local Harvest.
The Nature Conservancy has a neat carbon footprint calculator that includes your food in its equation; try it out here.
If there were any doubt in your mind as to how annoying I am in person, I’ve got a story for you. I once complained to my grocery co-op when I saw that they had kale labeled “local” that was grown in Oregon and California. I live in Seattle; the CA border is 500 miles away! Yep, I’m that person.