Written by: mikaeul_23
Nowadays, our planet has shown the destructive power that we have on anything we touch. Earth is crumbling down and it is all our fault. Forests are being cut down. glaciers are melting, and rivers are drying up due to climate change and we must put an end to it. Sustainability is no longer a commodity, but a necessity. if we want to prevent further damage to the environment. There are many approaches available to partake in an eco-friendly lifestyle and food consumption is one of them. Reducing your carbon footprint can greatly produce a positive impact on the environment if you understand the meaning behind zero food miles. Let’s provide you an insight on its importance and how to decrease it.
Zero Food Miles
Fruits are an excellent choice as an afternoon snack or ingredient in your favorite protein shake and I, for one, love to eat bananas. They are fresh, sweet, and can be prepared in many dishes. However, have you wondered where do bananas come from since they are available all year long? It might surprise you that bananas are not grown in the United States and are actually imported from Central American countries, such as Guatemala, Honduras, and Costa Rica. In other words, bananas, and other food products; make a journey from other countries or regions so they can be accessible where you live. This scenario summarizes the meaning behind the term food miles and its importance.
Food miles is a concept that describes how much distance certain food must travel for them to be available in the supermarket or store for purchase. Any product that is transported to your local store causes irreparable damage to the environment from any point of view. The pesticides used to harvest fruits and vegetables cause water and air pollution. While manufacturing and packaging employ the use of raw resources and create waste. Transporting the products by truck or plane increases the use of fossil fuels. Which harm the ozone layer and contribute to climate change.
Thus, zero food miles refer to the consumption of locally-grown food to reduce the need for traveling distances. And therefore, limit the amount of greenhouse gas produced. It is about practicing sustainability as a way to protect our planet.
Importance of Zero Food Miles Habits
As said previously, the main objective is to decrease the carbon emissions generated by transportation and manufacturing. However, it also provides other benefits to anyone who practices it. Consuming local produce offers better health conditions since fresh vegetables and fruits contain more nutrients and minerals. Most commercially-made food products lose nutritional value since it takes time for them to arrive at your local supermarket. Even more, they may be placed in storage until stock runs out.
It also promotes the local economy since money is being spent on businesses in your area. This allows the creation of jobs at a local level, investing profit in local businesses, and reinforcing community development. Remember that large corporations view food production as profit and have no care about the environment.
Additionally, zero food miles promote biodiversity, creates a safer food supply, improves food security, and generates a good investment for produces.
Best Approaches to Reduce your Food Miles
Prioritize on Locally-Grown Food
One of the best ways to apply the “zero food miles” lifestyle is to buy food products that are cultivated in your area or region. You can inspect the labels of the food and verify where it was grown. Additionally, there are existing laws that demand retailers and stores to exhibit the sources of all their products, including fruits and vegetables, even if they do not contain any packaging. Because of this, you may have seen signs that say: “Californian pears” or “Exquisite Mangoes from Brazil” as ways to inform customers where the food comes from. If there are no signs that inform whether the products are locally grown or not, you can also ask the employees as they have the responsibility to disclose this type of information.
Even more, you can make requests to your nearby supermarkets and stores to incorporate more local options since it can attract more clientele. This allows people to add variety to their everyday shopping. Believe me, people are fascinated by new products, especially if there is an added health benefit.
Eat within Season
Remember that certain fruits and vegetables only flourish in specific seasons or weather conditions. For example, avocados, mangoes, pineapples, and strawberries are cultivated during Spring, while apples, pumpkins, potatoes, and cauliflower mature more easily when it is Fall. Therefore, there is a higher chance that this product is locally grown since they are only accessible in specific time periods. You will be incorporating diversity into your diet, which can improve your health and overall health. Also, food that is in season is usually less expensive and more nutritious due to its innate freshness and temporary abundance.
Grow your own Vegetable Garden
If you truly want to consume fresh and organic food, the best option is to create your own garden. You will be able to grow fruits and vegetables that fit your tastebuds while ensuring that anything you eat is chemical-free and contains no pesticides. Since all your produce is freshly-cut, you will also greater nutritional value in your meals. Even more, it is practically impossible to compare the taste between packaged and organic fruits. Believe me, you will be in shock on how heavenly a tomato tastes when it is grown locally instead of being transported to your store after many days.
A vegetable garden can also be a great approach to promote community development. Neighbors and families can establish a community garden, where everyone benefits from fresh and healthier fruits and vegetables and establishes deeper connections with children and the elderly. A happy heart is a healthy heart!
Resort to Other Means of Transportation
Reducing your fuel consumption is another effective way to protect the environment from pollution and climate change. Public transportation, riding a bicycle, or walking help reduce carbon dioxide emissions and therefore, your carbon footprint. You can also carpool with neighbors or friends to decrease the amount of fossil fuel utilized while promoting eco-friendly lifestyles to the people you know.
Transportation should be considered when buying certain food products. Remember that items brought to your area by plane have the highest carbon emissions. While shipped products are the most eco-friendly. Food that is transported by trucks also produces air and water pollution. Thus, you must limit your consumption from these types of elements.
Reduce your Meat Consumption
According to statistics, livestock farming generates approximately 50% of all greenhouse gas emissions and meat-based diets have the topmost carbon footprint of them all. Additionally, cheese, meat, and eggs have the highest carbon emissions of all food choices due to the amount of methane and gas produced by cows, pigs, and chicken. Therefore, it is plausible to decrease your meat intake and partake more in vegetarian or vegan regimens.
Vegan meals have the lowest carbon footprint, while vegetarian dishes yield about 50% fewer carbon emissions than regular diets. Apart from saving your planet from further destruction. You are choosing better lifestyle choices that will ultimately improve your quality of life. Keep in mind that vegetarians and vegans have a higher life expectancy than regular people.
Purchase in Advance
Another approach to reducing your food miles is to buy in bulk or purchase food that will last for longer time periods. When you buy enough food, you make less frequent visits yo your store. Therefore, it is not required to drive your car that often, and you easily decrease your carbon footprint. Since bulk-buying also helps you save money it is not a bad idea to employ this every once in a while.
How to Find Fresh and/or Organic Food?
Did you know that there are approximately three million farms in the United States and 80% of them are family businesses? For this reason, choosing a family market increases the possibility of consuming locally-grown food and improving the economy of nearby businesses in your area. First of all, it is best to research online websites that inform people about markets or stores that sell organic and/or local produce. It is rather easy to filter the establishments by cities and find out which ones are closer to your home. You can investigate what products are in season since this product can also be fresh and locally flourished.
Visiting a Farmer’s Market is another great option to find fresh fruits and vegetables. They are accessible throughout the year and can be found in many cities or regions. Additionally, you can receive advice and guidance from farmers on how certain fruits and vegetables are grown or where they come from. Normally, Farmer’s Markets are only opened during weekends, so you should try to purchase a one-week supply.
Some people also resort to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) as a way to obtain locally-grown food. Basically, you invest in a local farm so it can provide you a share of his crops whenever they are fully matured. Although you may spend a certain amount of money per year for this “subscription”. You will receive fresh fruits and vegetables that can be delivered to your home.
Finally, the best way to consume locally-grown food is to grow it yourself. Although it can be a hassle to seed and plant fruits and vegetables. There is a great award waiting for you from all your hard work and dedication.
Zero food miles can truly be an excellent approach to reduce all the damage that our planet has suffered from human greed. It is our responsibility to protect the environment. If we want our children and grand-children to marvel at the beauties this world has to offer. Locally-grown food has many benefits that cannot be taken for granted. It provides better nutritional value, reinforces the local economy, reduces pollution, and generates a sense of duty for our planet. You can even take it a step further and grow your own fruits and vegetables. One can truly make a difference in the world if you have the drive and determination!