Before discussing the environmental benefits of eating local food, it is very important to know about local food.
Local food is basically a locally or regionally produced food product that travels less than 400 miles from its origin or within the state where it is produced.
Local food is grown close to the consumer’s houses in small farmlands and is transported to the consumers through short distances.
It is being sold near the points of its production like at farmers market or roadside stands etc.
Key environmental benefits of eating local food
There are many environmental benefits of eating local food; some of them are listed and discussed below:
- Reduces Global Warming
- Mitigates Green House Gas Emissions
- Good for Public Health
- Beneficial for Economy
- Provides a Habitat or Green Environment to Households
- Supports Sustainability
- Controls Carbon Foot Prints and Ecological-Footprints
1. Reduces Global Warming
Global Warming is the average rise in the temperature of the earth. The sources of global warming may be natural as well as anthropogenic (man causing).
The natural sources may include vegetation decay, wildfires, volcanic activity etc. The anthropogenic sources include burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas), removing forests etc. It has many adverse impacts on our environment.
Some of the impacts of global warming are melting of glaciers, rise in sea levels, coastal flooding and changes in rainfall patterns.
Eating local food helps in reducing global warming. Use of local food reduces the transportation of food from far off agricultural areas. The transportation of food consumes a large amount of fossil fuels which contributes towards global warming.
As the use of local food reduces the transportation, consumes small amounts of fossil fuels so in return reduces global warming.
2. Mitigates Green House Gas Emissions
Green house gases are the gases that cause green house gas effect (global warming). The typical green house gases are carbon-dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), water vapors, nitrous oxide (N2O), ozone (O3) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
The major sources of these green house gases are the burning of fossil fuels and use of fertilizers.
The use of local food reduces the burning of fossil fuels in the transportation of food. As a result, it reduces the green house gas emissions from fossil fuels.
The production of food accounts for 83% of green house gas emissions. It can vary if food is grown in heavily fertilized fields or with intensive use of irrigation and pesticides.
The food that is not grown locally uses intensive amounts of nitrogenous fertilizers. These fertilizers contribute towards the emissions of green house gases mostly methane and nitrous oxide.
3. Good for Public Health
Locally grown food is seasonal, fresh and full of taste and nutrition. Local food is sold by farmers directly to the local consumers and it has no packing, shipping and shelf-life issues.
Locally grown food is much safer for public health as it uses small amounts of fertilizers in its production. The use of small amounts of chemicals in the production of local food leads to good and sound health of consumers.
4. Beneficial for Economy
Eating locally grown food is beneficial and supportive to the local economy. Generally, farmers on average receive only 20 cents of each food dollar spent. The rest of money goes for transportation, processing, packaging, refrigeration and marketing of food.
Farmers who sell food to local consumers receive the full retail value, a dollar for each food dollar spent. The money that is spent by local farmers all stays close to home and is reinvested with businesses and services within the community.
5. Provides a Habitat or Green Environment to Households
Generally, local food is grown in small farmlands near residential areas (households). It provides a green environment to households and community.
It provides a green habitat and supports biodiversity. Growing and eating local food keeps our environment and community green.
6. Supports Sustainability
Sustainable is something that we save for our future generations without degrading the quality and quantity of our environment.
How local food is sustainable or supports sustainability? Production of local food consumes minimum amounts of natural resources like water. It consumes minimum amounts of water resources like groundwater and surface water.
Production of local food saves over consumption of fossil fuels, maintaining the soil quality and prevents from loss of bio-diversity. It also prevents the air from polluting (avoids air pollution) as its production uses simple techniques and small amounts of spray fertilizers.
7. Controls Carbon Foot Prints and Eco-Footprints
A carbon footprint is defined as “the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly supporting human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2)”. More is the quantity of CO2 produced; more will be the carbon footprints.
Eating local food reduces carbon footprints. But the question is how the use of local food reduces carbon footprints?
Use of local food contributes towards less CO2 emissions as it consumes small amounts of fossil fuels in transportation. Thus, the less production of CO2 reduces carbon footprints in the environment.
Eco-Footprint is the measure of resource consumption of human activities throughout the whole lifecycle of a product and the amount of land needed to supply the resources consumed.
How local food reduces Eco-Footprints? Local food is grown on lesser area in small farmlands and it uses less amount of land for its production. Thus, reduces the Eco-Footprints.
So these are the 7 environmental benefits of eating local food you must know to switch to it and save your environment.