Answer: 1,500 miles
The produce you see in the local grocery store has been through quite a journey before it finally fuels your day. It may seem unbelievable, but your produce travels an average of 1,500 miles before it gets to your plate — that’s the distance between New York City and Cuba! And, all that extra travel equals increased processing, as fruits and veggies are often prepared for shipping prior to becoming ripe, and then injected with a hormone to bring out the color and appear ready.
Just imagine how much energy this process requires when you factor in the millions of grocery stores across the U.S., each filled with thousands of fruits and vegetables from around the world.
Cross Country Veggies
So, next time you see large shipping trucks on the highway, consider what’s in them, where they came from, and where they’re going. Chances are, at least one of those trucks is making a cross country trip to transport your food. Have you ever noticed the Florida sticker on your orange at lunchtime? That orange had to travel to you somehow, and it wasn’t as inexpensive as you may think – our environment paid the cost in unnecessary carbon dioxide emissions:
Local Produce is Healthy ProduceLocally-grown foods have the double benefit of being healthier for you, and reducing your footprint. According to the Earth Day Network, produce manufacturers spray a billion pounds of pesticides each year to protect their crops from insects. Local farmers often use fewer harmful chemicals and pesticides because they operate on a smaller scale than big companies. Reducing your pesticide intake can go a long way to improving your health, as pesticide exposure has been linked to many serious side affects, one of which is increased risk for Myeloma.
Grow your own!In order to improve your own health and save our oceans and farms, why not change that 1,500 miles to 15 feet? Growing vegetables in a backyard garden eliminates the need for fuel and resulting emissions, as well as wasteful packaging stemming from commercial transport. Gardening can also be relaxing way to get exercise, remain active, and encourage family togetherness. By eating produce grown at home you can be sure that no harmful chemicals are going into your food. And, by eating in the season, your produce will be tastier than those fruits delivered from miles away.
The food industry is evolving into a mass machine of imports and exports. According to one report, Britain imported 114,000 metric tons of milk while it exported nearly the same amount in 1992. This environmentally-harmful system could be easily remedied if we allowed the food we buy to travel a little less. Think globally, EAT LOCALLY! Support the farms in your area.
So where can you buy local? Find a farmer’s market in your area!
Go Organic! EarthShare
Pesticide Exposure Increases Risk, Beyond Pesticides
Climate Change Solutions, What you can do Right now, Earth Day Network
Emission Facts: Average Carbon Dioxide Emissions Resulting from Gasoline and Diesel Fuel, the Environmental Protection Agency
Measuring Vehicle Contribution to Smog, the Sierra Club
The Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico, the Sierra Club
How Far Does Your Food Travel to get to Your Plate?, The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture
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