Being connected to your food and knowing where your food comes from is are some of the most important things that you can do for your health, your community and the planet. Having this connection develops a healthy relationship with food allowing people to appreciate and respect that food is not indispensable. The food we eat feeds our microbes, gives us energy and nutrition, and keeps us healthy. The choices we make about our food clearly affects our health, but also have a huge effect on the world around us. If you want to support local farmers, eat healthier and more delicious food, and reduce your carbon footprint, this article will give you the important tips that you can incorporate into your life today.
The farm to table movement has swept across North America like an arctic wind, but is it rooted in truth or is it just another marketing ploy full of hot air? It turns out that “home grown” is not only better for you, but also for your community and the environment. According to the The Harvard Medical School Center for Health and the Global Environment, food transported long distances is not likely to be as nutritious as food grown and consumed locally. Even though the fruit or vegetable may attain full colour after it has been picked it has not been given the chance to obtain it’s highest nutrient levels. Getting the highest levels of nutrients and antioxidants from our produce is important for the health of our bodies. So eating produce that is allowed to ripen before being picked is important. The time and temperature changes involved with food travelling around the world can equal the nutrients degrading. Meaning, getting your food as close to home as possible is the best option for your health.
Eating locally grown and raised food is not only good for your health, but also for the health of the planet. According to a study done at Iowa State University, a local carrot has to travel only 43 kilometers to reach you while a conventionally sourced carrot has to travel 2957 kilometers to get to your plate. Think about the difference in the carbon footprint of that one item and now think about all of the different foods you eat in a week. The impact on the plant can really add up. If you become more aware of where each item you buy has travelled from and only choose food from within a 100km radius that will have a profound impact on the planet.
We have come to expect to be able to buy almost any type of food from any country in the world at any time of year we want, but many of us never stop to think of the global implications of having such choices. Not only does getting food shipped around the world add to climate change, it can also have a negative impact on the environment of the country it is coming from. With the declaration that quinoa is a “superfood” the global demand for the food increased immensely. Many farms in Peru switched from what they were growing to produce quinoa. This resulted in reduced growing diversity which had a negative impact on soil quality and wildlife. It also made this superfood unaffordable to the locals who had come to rely on it. Mexico has experienced massive deforestation due to creating space for avocado plantations which require a great deal of water to grow, making the entire production extremely unsustainable. Another reason to be aware of what country your food is coming from is their growing practices. While Canada and Europe have banned many harmful pesticides many other countries have not. Buying fruits from Florida, vegetables from Chilie, and pickles from India may all contain harmful chemicals that are now going into your body. Choosing local, organic options eliminates the worry that you are putting toxic chemicals into your and your family’s bodies.
Buying local is also great for your community as you are investing in the area in which you live. One of the best ways to do this is to buy directly from small, independent farmers in your area. If you contact the farmers in advance most are very welcoming and incredibly willing to show you around the farm and explain their farming practices to you and answer all of your questions. Do they use organic or permaculture practices? Was there genetic engineering involved? How was the animal raised? What was it fed? By visiting the farm directly you can see firsthand the practices the farmer uses. This is also a fun adventure for the kids and an excellent way to teach them where food comes from and the energy that goes into producing it. Buying directly from the farmer also saves you money. By purchasing from the farmer you cut out the middleman and the transportation costs. The farmer makes more, you save and you are getting healthier food for you and your family!
It may seem like a lot more to think about when answering the age-old question “what’s for dinner?” But if we don’t start to pay greater attention to where our food comes from it will have lasting and profound effects on the health of our bodies, our local economy, and the planet. Knowing the global impact of the food that you consume helps you be able to make more ethical choices. Bringing a little more awareness to where the food you are buying comes from is a small change that creates a big difference.
Transform Gros Morne sources all of our seafood, vegetables, berries, meat, cheese, and coffee from local, independent organic or permaculture producers.