Does Buying Local Organic Grown Foods Help the Environment? Buying locally grown organic foods helps us have a cleaner and healthier environment. Getting local organic foods rather than conventional foods reduces the carbon footprint that conventional foods bring about. This means that your food travels a lot less distance than other foods would. It has been said, that on average, a fresh food item travels about 1,500 miles just to get to our plate. That is just one item; imagine how many miles it takes for a whole plate of food.
When we buy these foods we support local organic farmers; this means that we support local businesses. Over time this greatly benefits our environment, especially since a majority of local organic farmers don’t use harmful pesticides. Today’s pesticides have been designed to kill living organisms; this is why the persistent ones can be very harmful to the environment and our health. These pesticides can even contaminate our food, air, and water. In addition, synthetic fertilizers require large amounts of fossil fuel to produce.
They can even contribute to air quality, such as acid rain when pesticides evaporate, and soil degradation. Local organic grown foods typically have a lot less or even no pesticides compared to conventional foods. As a last resort, organic farmers may apply certain botanical or other non-synthetic pesticides, such as rotenone and pyrethrins which are both from plants (Parnes). This leads to many great influences to the environment, such as without the use of harmful pesticides, plants are able to reach their full potential and have a higher natural nutrient level.
Some people even find that organic foods have a higher potential of tasting much better and lasting longer than conventional foods. The most important foods to buy organic have been termed, The Dirty Dozen. The Dirty Dozen consists of fruits and vegetables that are more fragile and more prone to bugs and rotting, therefore they require more pesticides when grown commercially. When they are grown and bought organically, they are a lot cleaner and healthier. The Dirty Dozen are comprised of apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, ettuce, cherries, and kale and collard greens (Shapley). Since most of these foods are seasonal here in Minnesota, we have to get them from somewhere else. In addition, seasonal food tastes better when you haven’t had it during the offseason. Now of course that may be an opinion but think about it, are strawberries just as good in the winter as they are in the summer? Do we still buy a lot of sweet corn in the winter? There really aren’t a lot of people that buy these foods during the winter because they just aren’t as good then.
If we were to treat the least preferable offseason foods like this, we could reduce our neediness on them and therefore we can reduce the amount of gas that it would take to get the food here. This would lead to a reduction in carbon emissions and in effect we would lessen our carbon footprint. Also, without pesticides the soil and nearby bodies of water are much healthier. The runoffs of the farms are cleaner and the ground water is a great deal healthier without the use of pesticides. When pesticides run off into a little stream, that stream may run into a river, which would then run into a bigger body of water such as a lake or ocean.
This may not seem so bad since it’s just a little bit in a big system of water, but if it is happening all over and multiple times then there’s a big problem. By supporting local organic growers and reducing our dependency on commercial growers, we can reduce the amount of pesticides that get into our water systems. This concludes that there would be fewer pollutants in the water and soil, which would amount to a healthier environment. Most local organic farms take much better care of their land than commercial farmers do.
In a commercial farm, soil degradation happens a lot, this is because industrial farms disregard the need for balance. They will often use the land continuously or as many times as they can before the soil has enough time to recuperate. With this happening and the use of pesticides, erosion is a great deal more likely to happen at commercial farms. Another worthy reason to buy local organic foods is that most of these farmers are better to their animals than commercial farmers are to theirs. They tend to treat their animals as animals and not just another moneymaking machine.
The animals aren’t in a cramped space like commercial animals are, they get to roam more often and have a healthier life-schedule. Take cows for an example: their life schedule would include a specific time when they eat, certain times they are outside or inside, and when they are to be milked for the day. Local organic farmers are less likely to give their cows growth hormones or other enhancers. One of the main reasons is because when a cow is fed enhancers and or growth hormones the cow doesn’t live as long. Cows tend to live to be seven years old, but with enhancers they live to only about five years.
It has been proven that seven-year cows produce the same amount of milk as five-year cows that have been given enhancers and or hormones. A large number of local organic farmers also feed their animals better, healthier food so that the animals can grow up to be healthier. However, commercial farmers almost always give their animals a great deal of antibiotics. When animals are given large amounts of various antibiotics, this leads to the development of dangerous antibiotic-resistant infections. Local organic farmers tend to rely more on natural measures to maintain their animal’s health.
Having naturally healthy animals leads to healthier produce and a healthier environment. When we support local organic farms, they are able to thrive and keep more green spaces closer to home. In many areas, they help stop the spread of urban sprawl (Watson). Buying their food helps lessen our dependence on gas, since the food tends to travel less to get to the store or a nearby roadside stand. With buying these local organic foods and reducing our need on conventional foods we would decrease our dependence on gas, soil degradation, and the amount of pesticides in our water, soil, and air.
Buying locally organic grown foods may not be in everyone’s budget, but every little bit helps. If a person were to buy at least one of these food items regularly, over time that would help out the environment since you are helping local people out and you are promoting a healthier environment. By going to a local organic farmers market or to a local store that sells these foods, you are reducing the amount of gas that would be needed to get that food to your area. If food is grown locally, it does not need to be shipped as far. But, why are local organic grown foods so expensive you ask?
According to Robin Brett Parnes, the organic food supply is limited as compared to demand; production costs for organic foods are usually higher because of greater labor input and because farmers don’t produce enough of a single product to lower the overall cost. Also, there’s a range of other factors that aren’t captured in the price of conventional food such as higher standards for animal welfare and environmental enhancement and protection (Parnes). When talking about the environment these higher prices are worth it, especially at this time when we need to start improving our environment.
With all of this in mind, buying local organically grown food would help the environment even if you can afford just one item, because every little bit helps. Works Cited: “How Does Eating Locally Grown Food Help the Environment?. ” About. com Environmental Issues. N. p. ,. d. Web. http://environment. about. com/od/greenlivingdesign/a/locally_grown. htm. Parnes, Robin Brett. “How Organic Food Works . ” HowStuffWorks. HowStuffWorks, Inc, n. d. Web. 1 Oct 2011. http://science. howstuffworks. com/environmental/green-science/organic-food6. tm. Shapley, Dan. “The New Dirty Dozen: 12 Foods to Eat Organic. ” The Daily Green. N. p. , n. d. Web. http://www. thedailygreen. com/healthy-eating/eat-safe/Dirty-Dozen-Foods#fbIndex1. Watson, Molly . “Eight Reasons to Eat Local Foods. ” About. com Local Foods. N. p. , n. d. Web. http://localfoods. about. com/od/finduselocalfoods/tp/5-Reasons-to-Eat-Local-Foods. htm. “What is Local. ” Sustainable Table serving up healty food choices. N. p. , January 2009. Web. http://www. sustainabletable. org/issues/eatlocal/.