Sustainability Tip: Eating local food helps reduce gas emissions

Sustainability Tip: Eating local food helps reduce gas emissions

Did you know that 25-30% of total greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to our food system? The story behind our food system is complex, because it includes production, transportation, retail, consumption and waste management of the food that we enjoy daily — not to mention food’s impact on human health and the environment. When we think about the factors that contribute to climate change, the first images that come to mind are dirty power plants and nightmare traffic spewing CO2, but we usually don’t think about what’s on our plates.

According to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Agriculture and the food system are key to global climate change responses.” Furthermore, the report concludes, “Combining supply-side actions such as efficient production, transport, and processing with demand-side interventions such as modification of food choices, and reduction of food loss and waste, reduce (greenhouse gas) emissions and enhances food system resilience.”

THE GOODS YOU BUY

While meandering the aisles of the grocery store, you are choosing from goods at the end of a long supply chain. Those goods most likely traveled far distances to reach your shopping basket. If you’re shopping at a local farmers market instead, your food likely traveled a much shorter distance, perhaps even less than a mile. By buying from a farmer’s market, you have shortened, or even eliminated, that supply chain. You’re buying directly from the farmer.

An issue with buying from farmers markets can be that they are usually only held once a week. Thanks to Samantha Miller’s business, All The Good Stuff, you don’t have to physically travel to the farmers market every Saturday to buy from local farmers. All The Good Stuff is a year-round farmers market delivery service that serves the Eagle Valley. All The Good Stuff’s website allows you to search for local farmers and order food directly from them with their online menu. This helps us adjust our local food systems by avoiding lengthy supply chains and giving consumers the power to know how their food is being produced.

Modification of our food choices is an important piece in altering our food systems. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “consumption of healthy and sustainable diets presents major opportunities for reducing (greenhouse gas) emissions from food systems and improving health outcomes.”

Examples of healthy and sustainable diets are high in coarse grains fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and seeds. Where you spend your dollars counts, and by purchasing fresh local produce and more sustainable goods, you are creating market incentives for more locally-made, sustainable products.

At the end of our food system, we have food loss and waste if we aren’t careful. That’s why All The Good Stuff has paired up with The Community Market, previously known as the Eagle River Food Bank, to bring fresh, locally-grown, nutritious food to families in Eagle County. Refer to previous Vail Daily stories for more information: head to vaildaily.com/entertainment. Plus, every $1 donated to All The Good Stuff will be turned into 1 pound of produce from Austin Family Farms.

HERE ARE THREE TIPS FOR REDUCING GREENHOUSE GAS

Shop local: Shorten the supply chain when you can’t make it to the local farmers market by shopping at allthegoodstuffdelivered.com.

Shift to a more sustainable diet: Where you spend your money counts. By purchasing healthy and sustainable food choices you are sending a message to food producers and creating market incentives for more sustainable food production.

Volunteer or donate: All The Good Stuff has created the Do Good Crew that offers ways to get involved and give back to the community by cleaning up trash, separating recycling and much more.

Stephen Beane is the Actively Green intern at Walking Mountains Science Center. He can be reached at stephenb@walkingmountains.org.

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