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The Local Food Movement: Going Green

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Submitted By Darkhan
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The Local Food Movement: Going Green The food system is changing very fast nowadays. As we improve the quality of our life, we also develop the new ways to supply the population with food. Our growing population’s demand on food is enormous, and this demand led to the development of the processed food industry. This industry causes a lot of problems to humanity, harming the environment and health. But for the past decades our food system has significantly changed; new movements has occurred, and one them, the “locavore” movement, which supports the idea of the consumption of the locally grown food, is developing very fast. What do people mean by “local food”? According to the article “Local Food Systems: Concepts, Impacts, and Issues”, “the local food system is a concept, used to describe the distance between producers and consumers” (10). Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, the authors of 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating, put the boundaries of 100-mile radius because as they say: “A 100-mile radius is large enough to reach beyond a big city and small enough to feel truly local” (qtd. in DeWeerdt 62). As this movement grows, more and more people are becoming interested in local food system, and in particular, in its benefits to society. People should eat the food, which was grown within 100 miles of their living place because the local food system can benefit the population in terms of health, environment and economy. Health is one of the most important issues in the local food movement. When people use this term, they often mean not only the geographical concept, but also the sustainable and accessible food, which benefits their dietary needs. The goal of local food movement is to provide people with this kind of food, also making it safer for the health. This issue takes an important place in the development of this movement. The food we eat demonstrates how healthy we are; but since the global food market has become globalized, the risk of food safety problems has increased (Horrigan 451). For example the chemicals, which are used in the poultry production process, cause the chicken’s abnormal mutations, which can lead to rare forms of cancer (Richman 9). Moreover, pesticides, used in the cultivation of crops and vegetables, make the food too dangerous to eat: badly washed tomatoes can cause the gastric ulcer. People simply cannot trust the products, which were artificially risen; if they do consume it, their health would be put at risk. The local food can solve this problem, and several facts can support this idea. At first, locally grown food has a small period between harvesting and getting onto the consumers’ table, so it can be said that this food is fresh and nutritious. In contrast to the food, which we buy in supermarkets, locally grown products are reliable because people can always control the quality of food that they eat. If we live close to where the food is raised, we will have more power over how it is raised (Halweil 83). Generally speaking, the local food is “the easiest way to eliminate suspect food from your diet” (Halweil 84). Eating locally is not an easy way to get the food – locavores may experience the lack of some daily used products like salt or sugar. On the other hand, by consumption the locally grown food, people exclude processed fats and chemical ingredients from their diet. The diet, based on sustainable and healthy food, can change the North American tendency of obesity, making it more suitable for health. Overall, local food is a beneficial issue, which provides consumers with nutritious and sustainable food and increases the health state of the nation. Being beneficial in terms of health, local food is also sustainable for environment. Does anyone think about the distance, which the food travels to get to the consumers? There is a special term called “food miles”, which determines this distance. The concept of food miles includes the miles that food has travelled, starting from the farm where it was raised and finishing on the table where it was consumed. Since food system is relying on the long distance transportation and global distribution networks, the distance between farms and consumers is growing (Martinez, et al. 48). As this distance grows, several concerns, including greenhouse gases (GHG) emission and pollution, are being raised by the society. People now clearly understand that the system, relying on long-distance production, is affecting the environment a lot. People should understand that not only the food transportation causes the greenhouse gases. According to the data, provided by Christopher Weber and H. Scott Matthews, “83 percent of emissions occur before food even leaves the farm gate” (qtd. in DeWeerdt 65). Food production, processing, storage and transportation pollute soil and air, while locally grown food does not require all this complicated and inefficient processes, because, as it is mentioned in “Local & Regional Food Systems”, local market depend on small and sustainable family farms. These farms’ approach is to produce accessible food without integrating expensive technologies and making this process as easy as it can be. By setting the minimum standards on the production of food, farmers reduce the environmental impact of food industry. One of the possible outcomes of this minimization is the elimination of the carbon footprint, the set of all greenhouse gases emissions. Food production is one of the biggest distributors of the greenhouse gases; in the US, for example, it is 17% of the total amount of GHG (Jones). Consumption of locally grown food will reduce the amount of these gases. In addition, local food will reduce the usage of fossil-fuels-based fertilizers that destroy the soil. Now, when people are facing the problem of oil reduction, it does make sense to give up the synthetic fertilizers because people have to use their resources more efficiently. All these facts show that the local food is an ecofriendly industry, which produce sustainable products, minimizing the harm to the environment.
Moreover, this ecofriendly movement is also economically efficient. By producing local food, there is no need in complicated and expensive food chains. Small and compact local farms can provide the population with the same food as a gigantic industry of processed products. In contrast to this big industry, local food markets develops the local economy. This concept implies that as the consumers buy food in the local market, the money they spent will remain in the local community (Martinez 43). In addition, this movement also supports the local farmers. The consumers’ demand on fresh and locally grown food resulted into the development of the local agriculture. As Pallavi Gogoi, a writer for BusinessWeek Online, says in her article “The Local Food Movement Benefits Farms, Food Production, Environment”: “The local food movement has already accomplished something that almost no one would have thought possible a few years back: a revival of small farms” (19). Now, these small farms positively impact the local economy: they provide population with employment, develop the rural areas and eliminate money, used to cover the costs of “middlemen” (Martinez 43). Nevertheless, there occurs a problem: the governments often do not support the local market. Michael Pollan and Rod Dreher state that a lot of farmers want to move away from agribusiness, but the government regulations make it hard for them to do so (“Political Forces” 113). According to the government, agribusiness is profitable and less expensive alternative to the local market. To counter this statement, locavores often include the environmental and health costs, which almost equal both sides’ arguments. Today, more and more people are becoming concerned about the health and environmental issues, and as a result they are willing to pay more for the food, which is sustainable. This fact shows that the local market is a perspective industry with growing opportunity cost. Martinez et. al show how this industry can be beneficial:
“Farmers’ markets helped medium ($10,000-$99,999gross sales) and large-scale ($100,000 or more gross sales) enterprises to expand or complemented existing, well established businesses. For small vendors (less than $10,000 gross sales), farmers’ markets appeared to operate as a relatively low-risk incubator for new businesses. (“Local Food Systems” 45)
Such opportunities make this industry very profitable, and it won’t be surprising if there is a rise in the market. Economical efficiency is one of the reasons why the local food movement grows. To sum up, local food movement is growing very fast and there are several issues behind this fact. Locally grown food is a reliable source of nutritious and fresh products, which helps people to eliminate the probability of health problems. Moreover, it is a good way to decrease the environmental impact of processed food industry – greenhouse gases emissions and soil pollution are one of the main environmental problems nowadays. Finally, the society gets the economical benefits from this industry. These factors show that local farming is beneficial and sustainable industry with perspective future.

Works Cited

DeWeerdt, Sarah. "Local Food Is Not Necessarily Better for the Environment" The Local Food Movement. Ed. Amy Francis. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2010. 62. Print.
Gogoi, Pallavi. "The Local Food Movement Benefits Farms, Food Production, and Environment." The Local Food Movement. Ed. Amy Francis. Detroit: Greenhaven, 2010. 19. Print.
Halweil, Brian. "Buying Local Is Good for the Consumer, the Farmer, and the Planet." The Local Food Movement. Ed. Amy Francis. Detroit: Greenhaven, 2010. 83. Print.
Horrigan, Leo, et al. "How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture." Environmental Health Perspectives 110.5 (May 2002): 451. Print.
Jones, Christopher M. “Carbon Footprint of Typical U.S. Household”. Cool Climate Network. California Air and Resources Board. 8 March 2013. Web. 5 December 2013.
Martinez, Stephen, et al. “Local Food Systems: Concepts, Impacts, and Issues”. ERR: Economic Research Report. United States Department of Agriculture. 3 December 2012. Web. 3 December 2013.
Pollan, Michael, and Rod Dreher. "Political Forces Make It Difficult for Local Food Economies to Succeed." The Local Food Movement. Ed. Amy Francis. Detroit: Greenhaven, 2010. Print.

Richman, Erin L. "Egg, Red Meat, and Poultry Intake and Risk of Lethal Prostate Cancer in the Prostate Specific Antigen-era: Incidence and Survival." Cancer Prevention Research. American Association for Cancer Research 09 Sept. 2011. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.

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