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Food Consumption as a Means of Environmental Stewardship

2009 September 18

Have you had a friend or colleague describe himself as a “locavore” and not grasped what was meant? According to Merriam-Webster’s On-line Dictionary, a locavore is someone “who eats locally grown food whenever possible.”

Recently, I visited the Red Stick Farmers Market, one of the weekly agricultural sales in Baton Rouge organized by Big River Economic & Agricultural Development Alliance (www.breada.org). Local growers and food preparers bring vegetables, meats, grains, pastries, honeys, jams, jellies, eggs & cheeses as well as herbs and flowering plants to the open air market near the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality’s office in downtown Baton Rouge. The market is held every Saturday morning at this location and at other designated spots on other days of the week.

There are a number of reasons for consumers to support and frequent these local markets. You are obtaining fresh foods for your family that in most cases were harvested and prepared within days of your purchases. By operating on a smaller scale than corporate operations, a number of the farms are “organic” or use less chemicals since the crops do not need to be shipped great distances and be subjected to multiple handlings and pests. Many of the farmers are small business operations in the community so your food dollars stay in the local area.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the organization created by the United Nations Environmental Programme and the World Meteorological Organization to assess climate change, 13.5 of greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to agricultural practices, not including transportation and shipping. By taking part in the locally grown food market that does not need extended transportation from across the country or from around the world, you are reducing your family’s carbon footprint.

image of farmers market stand displaying potatoes and greens with people shoppingAnd as I overheard two shoppers say, “The fruits and vegetables just test better than what comes from large scale farms.”

So next week, line up with your neighbors and support the environment by buying locally grown farm products.

About the author: Rob Lawrence joined EPA in 1990 and is Senior Policy Advisor on Energy Issues in the Dallas, TX regional office. As an economist, he works to insure that both supply and demand components are addressed as the Region develops its Clean Energy and Climate Change Strategy.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

11 Responses leave one →
  1. Johnny R. permalink
    September 18, 2009

    This is a splendid movement, but how do you know whether or not local growers are using pesticides? By making them your friends and discussing alternative, less harmful ways to save their crops from insects, molds, etc. Better yet, if you happen to own a parcel of land, or even a back yard, you can do it all yourself in your spare time. It’s a wonderful hobby that can make you healthy and wise.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    September 19, 2009

    Excess consumption of certain foods may also contribute to the process as will medications such as diuretics.

  3. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    September 21, 2009

    Locally grown food is much fresher and the prices at the farmers markets are often less than in the supermarket. We have a farmers’ market on Saturdays in Dana Point close to the county library. You can’t go by signs saying growed in California. I found that out when I got a letter from the FDA about phroduce from a California farm might have salmonilla. But the thing was the packaging. The FDA said the packaging had the name of a California farm on the labal; but, the actual produce was grown on a farm in Mexico. At the local farmers market, there is less likelyhood of being any surprises. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  4. Alan Gregory permalink
    September 21, 2009

    I’ve been thinking of this a lot these days, especially in light of the fact that a well-known gasoline retailer plans to construct a new mega station only a half mile away. There goes quality of life and an increase of local air pollution, including carbon dioxide.

  5. Rob permalink
    September 21, 2009

    Depending on your location, the person you buy from is the farmer who grew the produce or raised the livestock. That was the case when I visied the Red Stick Farmers Market. In larger markets, the sellers buy from several farmers and they may or may not know about the use of pesticides. But it never hurts to ask.

  6. Rob permalink
    September 21, 2009

    Ask plenty of questions. Not only will you engage the sellers, but your interest in locally grown products will reinforce the concept that there is a consumer market to support the local agriculture community.

  7. James Bradsure permalink
    September 25, 2009

    It’s hard sometimes trying to be green, it is not a case of not wanting to fight climate change, sometimse we are just in such a hurry with other
    pressing things in our lives, we are all guilty of shifting priorities.

    Being mindful of climate change, and helping stop deforestation and carbon emissions is important to most of us. Though it is not about being on the news chained to a tree or walking across the country to raise awareness about environmental issues.

    It’s about developing a habit of treading softly on our Earth, turning
    lights off when we are out of the room. The TV off unless we are sitting in front of it, turning off the computer and the mobile phone charger at the wall out let. Little things that will have an impact on global
    warming
    .

    Thanks for reading

    James
    Our-Environment.com

  8. Rob Lawrence permalink
    September 28, 2009

    James – thanks for the helpful suggestions. You may want to review one of my earlier EPA Blog postings on what individuals can do to reduce electricity usage. Check out the March 31, 2009 entry by either scrolling through the “older entries” or using the “Energy” subject heading in the right-hand column. I suggest the latter approach.

  9. Shadows of Pikes Peak permalink
    November 22, 2009

    Where I live, we have Farmers Markets every day,at different locations in town. On the week-end, there are several on the same day.
    But now the growing season’s over and so are the Farmers Markets. Time to start eating produce from Mexico and other countries, unless you’ve stored your fresh food from the summer, canning, freezing, and by using low moisture, bug proof storage areas for other food.

  10. Caroline@BudgetMEals permalink
    January 19, 2010

    Why is it that the healthiest food for you is the most expensive? You’d think most things start out natural and don’t need much intervention, so why do they charge you an arm and a leg?

  11. Michael permalink
    April 28, 2011

    Going green is a must for this generation if we must live a lasting legacy for the coming generation. The problem we face is that going green may not be simple for everyone because of what we are used to. But let’s be determined to achieve this.

    I hope this helps.

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