gas n gardenThe next time you sit down at your table for breakfast, a snack, or dinner, take a good look at the food on your plate. How far do you think it traveled to land in your kitchen? One hundred miles, five hundred miles? Did you know the average food in a meal for one individual served in the midwest travels an average of 1500 miles from point of origin to your table? Yes, I really did mean fifteen hundred, and remember that is an average, so some traveled more! That’s a crazy ton of miles. It is not just the distance. It is the fuel and energy needed to travel but it is also the fuel and resources needed for the manufacturing of the food, the containers and packaging, the entire industry centered on preserving food, the vehicles used for transporting it, the warehouses, the refrigeration units, the people driving back and forth for their jobs in the food industry, and on and on and on. Since food has to travel such a distance, more packaging is needed and more preservatives so the food is ‘fresh’ days after harvest. It is an endless spiral of using resources and causing negative effects within our environment. Years ago Americans ate food that was within reach, not fifteen hundred miles away. Food from great distances was thought of an indulgence. I remember having oranges as a huge treat! Now times have reversed and for many eating local is an indulgence. That is crazy! Food has become industrialized to the point of being preposterous. Ships, trains, planes, trucks, and even some factories  create enormous concerns about carbon dioxide emissions and greenhouse gasses from all the fossil fuels used in transportation and some manufacturing. The alternative is to shop for food that is local. If every person where to routinely eat even one meal, once a week from local ingredients, it would have an impact on our environment. Think what would happen if local food were to appear in your kitchen even more routinely! The advantage is you know where your food came from, where it has been, who has handled it and came into contact with it – all a big deal to anyone, I hope, who cares about their health. Local means different things to different people. Local for me means food produced in Iowa and not processed to increase its freshness, and the closer to my kitchen the better! Lucky for all of us farmers markets, local vendors, and even some grocers carry food produced close to home. In some cases these do tend to be a bit more expensive. However when you put your mind to food miles and what you eat as an investment in your health, it is a sensible trade-off. As Michael Pollen said, ‘eat food, not too much, mostly plants’. Good words especially if you add ‘locally produced’.

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