Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Have you ever considered the number of miles that your food travels from farm to table? The Canadian organization, Local Food Plus, does the calculations all the time and has figured out that families who spend just $10 worth of their weekly grocery budget on locally grown food can have a significant impact the environment and can help create jobs in the local food economy.

For simplicity sake the organization’s calculations are based on food being trucked either from Florida or California. So if a family in Halifax shifts $10 of their food budget to local food, the annual impact would be equivalent to taking a car off the road for two weeks. This particular calculation is based on food shipped from Florida, but we all know that lots of fresh produce is shipped from much farther away so the impact of making the change could be even bigger.

In terms of economic impact, 5,000 families shifting $10 per week to local products would divert $2.6 million from imported food into the pockets of local farmers.  And it would help to make our region less dependent on imported food, something that we should all be concerned about.

Shifting just $10 a week to local food is a synch this time of year. The markets are overflowing with fresh produce and even big grocery chains have some local (or regional) produce available. Much of the food being harvested this time of year has a long shelf life so it’s easy to stock up. Cabbage, winter squash, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower and apples are abundant so you can buy more than a week’s worth if you don’t often get the chance to go to a weekend farmer’s market.

Here’s a challenge for you, instead of shifting just $10 of your weekly food budget to local food, for the next few weeks you could try to buy only local vegetables. Imported carrots, corn, cucumber, greens, tomatoes, potatoes and such will be available all winter but the better tasting local versions won’t, so why not take advantage while you can (and support our local farmers while you’re at it.)

There is no shortage of markets to visit to search out local produce. Or you can search online for local producers. ACORN Organic and Buy Local NB both have searchable directories of local producers. (,  

Here’s one more reason to buy local food: freshly picked local fruit and vegetables taste better. Period. 

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