Why Does Locally Grown Food Matter?
by Craig Thomas
Where our food comes from and how our food is grown, processed, moved, stored and even cooked have become big topics in California and around the country—and for good reason. With increasing concerns about global warming and increasing CO2 levels in our atmosphere and food supply contamination and cancer rate increases it makes sense to think and act in ways that protect our families, and support movements that will lead to improved personal and environmental health. We have power in our choices and our voices.
There is no logical reason why the bulk of our food can’t be grown locally. Fresh and Local is a powerful food movement that has broad ramifications for our culture, our planet and our health. When we grow, and consume food from remote locations and truck (fly or railroad) it to regional distribution points, then ship it to local supermarkets then to your home, that food comes with direct and indirect costs, the price you pay for planting, cultivation, handling, packaging and movement to market. There is also the concern about the lives of the people doing the work. While there are similar categories for local food production, location and scale matter in many ways that are now a standard part of the farm-to-fork conversation in California. While cost is on every shoppers mind, creating a “moralized” market where economic activities are combined with social values like fresh, local and organic is part of the choice alternatives Placerville Food Co-op seeks to provide.
Buying Local benefits include:
- The desire for food of superior quality—freshness, flavor, ripeness, and extended shelf life;
- Understanding food safety issues and learning about farming practices directly from the grower, including visiting the farm;
- Support for small business in the local community;
- Preserving farmland and open space while supporting sustainable economic activity;
- Access to unique and heirloom varieties;
- The ability to buy products that don’t survive long-distance shipping;
- Depending on several factors such as the farming system, the possibility of a lower carbon footprint and CO2 emissions from production through consumption.
- Natural food stores and local farmer’s markets have the highest level of consumer trustworthiness (USDA 2014)
At the PFC, during peak local production, it is very likely that you and your family will be eating local produce that is harvested, washed, packaged, transported, placed on the produce display shelf, purchased, cooked and eaten in one eight-hour period. You can’t beat that for local benefit!
Craig Thomas, PFC Board Member
Owner, Seven Grandfathers Farm