Eating local is always considered the most sustainable and healthy diet. When we are talking about seasonal, locally grown fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes this is definitely the case. When grown organically in high quality, living soil, locally grown plant-based foods are extremely nutrient dense. Tree ripened fruits will often taste much sweeter and are much more enjoyable. By buying locally grown you also are able to boycott major corporations and avoid GMOs which is very important.
One way to eat locally grown food is to grow it ourselves. It does require some time and effort but will provide you with a lot of free food. This is also a great skill to have in case of emergency and we need to live off the land. Saving seeds is also a great idea.
You can also join a community shared agriculture (CSA). With this method you pay the farmer a yearly fee and will be provided with great produce weekly in return. This is a great way to support your farmer and help them survive the winter with your yearly fee.
You can also visit farmers markets across your city. In New York City this is especially helpful to low-income families who receive food stamps. For every five dollars in food stamps spent, farmers markets will provide you with two free bonus dollars towards a future purchase. This works out great for struggling families who are in need.
The Locally Grown Meat Myth.
A common myth about local produce is that eating locally grown meat is sustainable. Locally grown animals whether organic, grass-fed, free-range, or pasture raised are still using up a large amount of environmental resources and cannot feed our growing population.
When growing free range meat it is common knowledge that at most you can raise 500 pounds of meat per acre in one year. By contrast using that same acre someone could grow 39,000 pounds of potatoes, 40,000 pounds of collard greens, 16,000 pounds of spinach, 25,000 pounds of apples, 31,000 pounds of pears, 14,000 pounds of grapes, 32,000 pounds of celery, 20,000 pounds of carrots, just to name a few. So by showing these examples I can produce up to eighty times as much plant food per acre than meat.
Now theoretically if I owned an acre of land I could use two thousand pounds of produce to feed my family and ship out the rest of the produce anywhere in the world to feed the hungry. Imagine if everyone used their land this way and public spaces all grew edible plants. There would be a tremendous surplus to be able to feed everyone locally this way. Everyone could trade and barter. This is how locally grown could be sustainable for everyone. Not with raising animals for food.
Now let’s also take into consideration that free range animals are only responsible for one percent of the meat we eat but forty percent of the land mass is being occupied by the animals and to raise food to feed them. There is literally nowhere to put all these locally grown animals if we chose to all switch our meat choices to local and free range. We would need a few planets just for the animals. Where would we live? Where would native species live?
Let us also think about how only five percent of the land on earth is used to grow plant-based foods directly consumed by humans. This five percent though, supplies eighty percent of the calories consumed by humans. Imagine if we dedicated all our arable land to growing plant foods to be consumed by humans.
Raising animals also requires ten times more biofuel than raising plants. Animals raised for food also require a tremendous amount of water. It takes 1000 gallons of water to make 1 gallon of milk and 2500 gallons of water to make 1 pound of beef. It even takes 468 gallons of water to make 1 pound of chicken. Most fruits and vegetables require less than 100 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of produce. In a time of water scarcity it’s important not to waste water.
With the world population growing by 228,000 every day it’s important to live as sustainable as possible and with locally grown food that means strictly plant-based foods and maximizing our food production and minimizing our use of essential resources. In a world where humans drink 5.2 billion gallons of water and eat 21 billion gallons of water everyday, while cows drink 45 billion gallons of water every day and eat 135 billion pounds of food everyday something has to stop and it needs to start on a local level. Boycott all forms of animal agriculture since there is no sustainable way for everyone to consume them. Break free of the myths of sustainable meat.