When discussing the Green Movement an important move that is often overlooked is buying locally. This means buying from farmers who grow their products close to where you live. Definitions vary on what exactly can be considered ‘local,’ but in most cases this means within a seven hour drive, at most. The local food movement has thus far been centered around Farmers’ markets and chain “healthy foods” stores like Whole Foods. At the moment these are generally the only places where you can be certain of whether or not you are buying locally grown food. Independent restaurants will sometimes support local growers, but these types of restaurants are still fairly rare in most cities.
How does buying local contribute to the Green Movement?
Locally transported produce consume less gas. Many products on grocery store shelves are shipped over 1500 miles before they reach their destination. By increasing the amount of local food we purchase we are reducing the amount of oil used to prepare our meal.
The products are fresher. Much of the produce that grocery stores stock are picked one week before hitting the shelves. Local food, by contrast, is often picked the same day it is purchased. Although not directly related to the green movement, fresher food tastes better, which is always good.
Buying local supports local business and agriculture. Supporting smaller or local farmers, often by purchasing from them at farmers’ markets, means that your money goes directly to them and not to grocery stores and middlemen who leave little for the farmers.
Small and local farms are also more environmentally friendly. Large factory farms use fertilizers that deplete the soil of nutrients necessary for future growing, and strong insecticides that can be toxic. Not to mention, they also use large machinery that consume a lot of energy.
Finally, buying locally creates a sense of community. Farmers’ markets allow people within a community to interact with and get to know one another. Another local project is the communal garden. These gardens grow organic local food and often do not make money off of their produce. Like farmers’ markets, communal gardens become places of interaction between neighborhoods and larger communities. In some neighborhoods communal gardens are places where people can volunteer or buy small plots of land to utilize for themselves and their families. In other cases, communal gardens have become places for homeless people to find rehabilitation and work as gardeners who are paid out of city funds and profits from the gardens themselves.
It may seem simple, but there are many aspects to going green, such as buying locally, that have not been tapped. We should think about how we can build stronger communities by being green and buying local. By doing this we can support clean energy and the green movement in a more personalized way.
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