Green: Buying Locally

Transportation Cost Reduction

One method the average consumer can use to reduce their overall contribution to the world’s pollution is to, where and when feasible, to buy local or regional produce, meats and other foodstuffs. The rationale is that the “shorter” supply-chain will result in less energy being used to get the food from farm to table and therefore be greener to the environment.

Recent studies have found that “conventional” over-the-road transportation used 4 to 17 times more fuel and emitted 5 to 17 times more CO2 from burning of the fuel than a regional-based food distribution system. This is a growing problem. In 1965, there were an estimated 787,000 combination trucks registered in the United States, and these vehicles consumed 6.658 billion gallons of fuel. In 1997, there were 1,790,000 combination trucks that used 20.294 billion gallons of fuel! Many of these trucks transport food throughout the United States. A recent study indicated that in California alone more than 485,000 truckloads of fresh fruit and vegetables leave the state every year and travel an average of 1,500 miles to reach their destinations.

The energy used to transport a one pound can of corn to the consumer’s home and to prepare it exceeds the energy needed to produce the corn.

By encouraging and supporting local or regional food systems consumers can help the environment by dropping those transportation miles from an average of 1,500 miles to and average of only 45 miles.

Supporting Local & Regional Small Growers

By taking part in a local or regional food distribution system consumers would be in many cases supporting smaller growers who cannot compete with the large national agrobusines consortiums. Many smaller growers use far less chemicals – fertilizers or pesticides – than the larger growers do. Supporting their efforts would further reduce the overall environmental impact of food distribution.

The question is not whether small producers should participate in supermarket-driven supply chains but rather how they can do so in a manner that improves their livelihoods.

United Nations Conference On Trade & Development

Consumers can aid small growers, referred to as Smallholder, by choosing to by local or regional foodstuffs. Supermarkets base all or most of their policies on profitability. If the consumers choose to buy local or regional products as opposed to national or transnational brands, then supermarkets will choose to stock more local or regional goods.

Related Reading:

The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
The Negro Motorist Green-Book: 1940 Facsimile Edition
Green
Food: A Cultural Culinary History
Green Eggs and Ham

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10 Responses to “Green: Buying Locally”

  1. Dennis Says:

    That’s all well and good if they have what I want at a reasonable price.
    But I won’t do without, and I won’t pay too much. Yes, I’m a greedy ass.

    Dennis

  2. jonolan Says:

    Dennis,

    That’s an understandable sentiment. I prefer a practical approach to green living myself, and that does not include spending a lot more for things I want or need just because they’re local or regional. I believe though that if more consumers choose local or regional foodstuffs over national or transnational brands then more supermarkets and other larger venues will stock them and the costs will go down while the availability will rise.

  3. Our Tough Nature » Green: Buying Locally Says:

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  4. Christy Says:

    Fabulous post. Not only does buying local and regional food help contribute to reducing the pollution and helping the local economy, it’s just plain healthier, as you pointed out, for not only do smaller growers use far less chemicals, the local food produced will have more nutrients and vitamins as a result of not having to be shipped and stored for longer periods of time (thus allowing the natural health benefits to diminish with time). Also, the natural allergens within unprocessed honey help those who have sensitivities build up an immunity to their surrounding environment naturally. =)

  5. jonolan Says:

    You left out tastier! Locally grown food is often fresher. There’s also the – albeit subjective – benefit of maintaining a seasonal diet .

  6. Christy Says:

    Yes, and yes.

    Of course, I grew up grinding my own wheat berries to make flour, raising my own produce, and harvesting fresh eggs daily. ;p And no, we weren’t farmers – just folks who wanted fresh, organically grown, healthy food. =) So you’re not going to get an argument from me on this front. ;p

  7. jonolan Says:

    I’ve done a lot of that myself 🙂 Though I hate harvesting eggs; I think all hens hate me! I still manage some gardening and such.

  8. Christy Says:

    That’s what little siblings were for – they did the majority of the actual harvesting – better they got pecked than I! ;p Hehe.

    We had twenty or so hens and seven (yes, seven) roosters. Buff Orpingtons – beautiful birds.

  9. jonolan Says:

    LOL! Ah well, I was an only child.

  10. Christy Says:

    You missed out. Having your chores done for you by younger siblings (due to artful arguing, bribing, and trading) is a wonderful thing (and also the reason my father told me at an early age I should consider law; I would actually draw up contracts between my siblings and I and convince them to sign and date them and then use them as proof to my parents of a binding agreement should the fact that my siblings were doing my chores ever come into question. ;p )

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