Why Eat Locally Grown Food
What is all the buzz about eat local? The local food movement is growing strong in Calgary and is frequently heard but not necessarily always understood. Our food system has become unsustainable. We have adopted a way of eating that is hard on the environment, our economy and our health. One way we can change this is to change the way we eat. Eating locally grown food supports our economy – our farmers, growers and producers, it is easier on the environment as the food does not travel as far thereby reducing our environmental footprint, and because it travels a shorter distance it can be picked at its ripest giving us more flavour and nutrition from our food.
Here is an interesting article by Rick D., Founder of Eat Local Grown, one of the organizations leading the charge to bring about awareness and make it easy for consumers to buy local food.
Here is his story. Prior to 2007, my only interest in local food was a couple of tomato plants in my backyard. I considered myself an average, pretty healthy guy that exercised regularly and for the most part ate a healthy diet. And then I read a book – The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. That book changed the entire game for me. I bought 12 copies to give to family and friends. I became incredibly passionate about supporting local food in my community. To say that I was a bit crazy with the whole idea was an understatement. And I’m sure my ranting and raving was a bit tiresome to those within earshot. But I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. I read everything I could get my hands on, watched dozens of documentaries. Basically just soaked up as much information as I could find. In hindsight, I was ANGRY… In hindsight, I was ANGRY! That doesn’t quite say it. I was really ________ angry! You can probably think of a few key words to put in front of angry and you’ll get a bit closer to my true state of mind.
The more I learned, the more I felt that I had been lied to. And manipulated. I really thought my family had been eating a healthy diet. I had no clue. We’d go and fill our cart at Costco with food that was ‘supposed’ to be good for us. And then I’d feed it to my kids. It said it was good! Yep, right there on the label, the food told me it was healthy. And like an idiot, I believed it… So I was pissed off. Very pissed! The more I learned, the worse the situation seemed. And all the while these questions were spinning around in my head- How could these big companies make these health claims on the labels of their food? Did they make a mistake? Or did they really believe that the crap they were packaging is truly healthy? Could they just actually lie and get away with it? Would these companies really put their profits ahead of the health of their customers? I dug deeper. I learned more. I started to understand the amazingly large magnitudes of money that were on the line.
Think about it, most of us buy 100% of the food we eat. And most of us eat an average of 3 meals a day. Every day. In the USA alone, that’s upwards of 300 million people buying 3 meals a day. We spend a lot of money on food! And the big food processors are making a killing. Literally. The ubiquity, convenience and habit-forming appeal of hyperprocessed foods have largely drowned out the alternatives: There are five fast-food restaurants for every supermarket in the United States; in recent decades the adjusted for inflation price of fresh produce has increased by 40 percent while the price of soda and processed food has decreased by as much as 30 percent; and nearly inconceivable resources go into encouraging consumption in restaurants: fast-food companies spent $4.2 billion on marketing in 2009.” –Mark Bittman, Is Junk Food Really Cheaper? These big companies don’t have to lie… Like most people, I knew those basic facts; lots of people buy lots of food. But I never really thought about it. I began to understand how incredibly powerful food lobbyists could be. These big companies don’t have to lie. They just take a big sliver of those fat profits and buy some new laws. Years and years of big food company lobbyists pounding our politicians with billions of dollars in funds have successfully changed the rules of the game. A former VP of Monsanto is one of the powerful heads of the US FDA! That’s insanity! The term “organic” has become so watered down that a lot small growers just stopped using it! Okay- I’m ranting. Told you I was pissed. But why eatLocalGrown?
We’ve been shopping at the local farmers market for the last few years. I have really been amazed how great the food tastes. I now know the farmers I buy from. We talk! Many of them feel the same way that I do and it’s a big reason they are doing what they do. It’s so refreshing to go talk to the growers, buy their goods, bring them home and eat them that day. Great, healthy fruits and vegetables that were just picked. And they were grown with great care and love. Also, these farmers are building the soil on their land, unlike the big corporations that are poisoning our communities with pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Recently, we bought a freezer. We purchased a 1/4 of a cow that was 100% grass fed. And a 1/2 of a lamb from the same farm. The meat is delicious! It feels so right to support local food that was raised on a healthy farm and know that these animals ate the food that nature intended them to eat. There’s just not enough awareness… I want the farms that I buy from, and the thousands of others like them, to thrive. But many of them aren’t. They are working very hard and barely breaking even. Many of the farmers that I speak with tell me that they need to have other jobs to make ends meet.
There’s just not enough awareness. EatLocalgrown is our way of helping to change that. It’s a big job. It will take many people and a lot of time. We are one of many that are fighting this fight. We’re outnumbered, we have less resources, and less time. But we’ll fight because we know we need to. And every day we get a few more on our side. We spread the word and educate each other about local food. Knowledge is power! That’s why we’re doing this. Here’s HOW. Our goal is to list as many farms, ranches, restaurants, artisans, and farmer’s markets as possible that grow or sell local food in your communities. Our tool is here so you can Find, Rate, and Share these businesses. We’ll also provide lots of great articles with shopping tips, health and nutrition information and environmental news that impacts all of us. This site is meant to be interactive. It only works with your help!
What You Can Do to Get Involved (Right Now)!
Search our directory for local food businesses in your community and RATE or REVIEW them. Click here to learn how EatLocalGrown works.
Like EatLocalGrown, your local farmers’ markets, farms, growers & producers and organizations with a mandate to bring awareness and resources to change the way we eat like Poppy Innovations, on FACEBOOK, TWITTER and PINTEREST!
Use the Share Buttons on articles. Creating awareness is key to getting our food system back on track.