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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Why buy locally?

Buying food, goods or services produced, grown, or raised as close to your home as possible helps promote sustainability (an outcome which considers both humans and the environment at present and in years to come).
With industrialization, our food is being grown and processed in fewer locations and must travel further from producer to our homes. Of course, large agriculture corporations are reaping the economic benefits of this method of mass production. Although mass production may have some advantages – I have yet to see the so called proclamation to end world hunger being part of this industrialization process. Rather, this method of mass production is causing harm to the environment, consumers and rural communities, as well contributing to the world of convenience and gluttony.

For instance, a tremendous amount of fossil fuel is used to transport foods such long distances. Combustion of these fuels releases carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and other pollutants into the atmosphere, contributing to global climate change, acid rain, and air pollution.

Food processors also use a large amount of paper and plastic packaging to keep food fresh (or at least looking fresh) for a longer period of time. This packaging eventually becomes waste that is difficult or impossible, to reuse or recycle. In addition, the large industrial farms which produce these foods are often major sources of air and water pollution.

When it comes to health, buying food from local farms means getting food when it’s at its prime and has all its nutrients (not lost through days or weeks of travel on trucks). Food from afar tends to be genetically modified so that they appear fresher (brighter shine or color), longer shelf life, or can last in different temperatures. Many of the preservatives or the pesticides, growth hormones and chemical fertilizers large industrial farmers use to grow food and make it last longer are potentially hazardous to our health and the environment. Many cancers are being attributed to chemicals in foods which are bioaccummulating in your bodies.

Local foods from small farms usually undergo minimal processing, are produced in relatively small quantities, and are distributed in close proximity of the farm itself. Food produced on industrial farms is distributed throughout the world, creating the potential for disease-carrying food from a single factory farm to spread rapidly throughout the entire country (examples, include E-coli). From an epidemiological point of view tracking the origin of diseases can be difficult when all packaged meats are grouped together from thousands of different animals and distributed world-wide – and thus preventing or controlling disease outbreaks such as mad cow and E-coli is difficult (sorry that is the Risk Management in me).

Overall, by supporting our local farms and local stores we can help farmers keep their lands, preserve land which would ultimately be subject to urban sprawl, as well as prevent large organizations from economically pillaging small communities. Health wise these foods will be fresher, less contaminated with chemicals, contain more nutrients & vitamins needed to prevent disease and promote wellness.

We are lucky here in Ottawa, as this city offers a vast amount of areas to buy great local foods from the Byward Market, the Farmers market at Landsdown, the Parkdale Market, Westboro, Glebe as well as all the rural areas. Furthermore, there are an abundance of independent stores selling local goods and services. Whatever neighborhood you live in, rather than for the convenient one stop shopping at large corporate stores (Superstore, Walmart…), look around and see what stores offer local goods and services and help support them and keep them in business. Some complain about the prices, and yes this can be a deterrent to many, however it is about the supply and demand and unless we begin to support your local community costs will never go down and more and more independent stores will go under.
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1 comment:

SBP said...

So the hamburger meat we buy may be made up of thousands of different cows? That's kinda gross...

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