The energy savings of eating locally grown food are a little difficult to pin down. Large-scale shipping (like boxcars or even semis) is more energy-efficient than small-scale shipping likely to be used by farmers in your area. Even when the large-scale shipping covers more miles than the small-scale shipping. So how many farmers’ markets did that produce hit? You can’t really assume that local broccoli costs less energy.
But there are many reasons to prefer locally grown food. It usually tastes better and is fresher. If it’s organic, it’s a lot healthier for the land and you. Plus, a vital community knows how to grow most of its food. Homegrown food is a vital part of the community, culture, and seasons of where you live.
That said, I’ll breathe a sigh of relief when all the farmers around here drive electric trucks.
Locally grown food = good, yes, but don’t be too much of a fanatic about it. People have always traded food with their neighbors because different regions are suited for growing different crops.
Unfortunately, agribusiness has taken this age-old principle to extremes. Transnational corporations are pushing small farmers off their land all over the world and running huge plantations–often mono cultures–for export. This disrupts regional diets, local cultures, and economies. They also use way more fertilizer–“crop insurance”–than they need to, and the environmental impacts are extremely destructive.
So savor that local food when you can. Help bring a little sanity and scale back to the all important business of feeding ourselves. You might even try growing food in your back yard. It doesn’t get any more local than that!