You’ve heard that eating local is the thing to do. But how about sourcing all your food locally – is that even possible? From your tea/coffee to your starches (rice, potatoes, pasta), to your drinks. I’m lucky if I can arrive at 50% – and that’s in Northern California – where we have ample fruits, vegies, rice, wine, etc.
I would be fortunate to get 50% of my food intake locally. Starting with my first morning routine: coffee. How can I get local coffee when the nearest coffee plantation is in Santa Barbara – 400 miles away? … and they have 5 acres with beans selling at $60/lb. How can 90% of consumers in 1st world countries get their coffee or teas locally? Where are the large tea/coffee plantations in the USA or Europe?
Another consideration in going local on all food is the seasonality. It’s easier in summer, difficult in winter. They say an apple stored in a warehouse for several months, is way carbon intensive than an apple shipped from Chile. That gives me pause. Maybe the best solution is dehydration or canning. Freezing in my book uses way too much energy, although it is quick and convenient.
Again, I am spoiled in California – we have year round greens: the Salinas valley on the coast has year-round moderate temperatures and hectares of greenhouses.
I think greenhouses, vertical and urban farming have tremendous bright futures as fresh, local food becomes more important to every human.
Is it really local?
The label ‘local’ and ‘regional’ are not regulated. I don’t trust my local farmer markets anymore. There are unlabeled white trucks from industrial farms 500 miles away pretending to be local organic farmers. I ask questions and am connected with local farmers and CSAs where I volunteer and help out on.
For most people the best they can do is join a local CSA and get to know their own local farmers and pay them fairly. I find that many local farmers discard ‘not-so-perfect’ food since customers won’t buy them – so you probably get a bounty of imperfect produce at low cost.
Here’s a great article on one European’s experience in sourcing all their food locally…German DW article