Food miles: Encouraging people to purchase locally grown food

Food miles (or food kilometers) is a term used to explain the distance that food is transported as it travels from its maker to its consumer. The concept is used to highlight how distant a food is transported through global trade & also the cost of doing so in economic, environmental & social terms. It’s important to pay attention to food miles because when a food is transported a long distance; it loses a great deal of its original taste & nutritional value. Longer transport times also influence the environment, while the transport vehicles release pollution into the atmosphere & consume natural fuels. 

Although it’s difficult to calculate your product's food miles to a precise degree, an understanding of where it was shipped from will give you an overall idea. If you live in America, for example, then it’s certain that food shipped from Europe will contain many food miles.  You will get food that is fresher & more nutritious. Local food sold in markets & co-operatives is likely to have been harvested soon beforehand. Furthermore, local farmers can offer varieties of produce tailored to personal taste, rather than consume themselves with adding ingredients that increase the food's shelf life.

You will be financially supporting your local community & thus family farms that may be struggling against the multinational corporations. If you buy locally, you will be both supporting the farmers whom provide the food, and the merchants whom sell it. You will also be supporting your community on a more social level; personal interaction with local sellers and growers will strengthen the bond between the two. Such forgings of belief and understanding are the foundations of strong communities. You will protect the environment more because the food miles of locally-sourced food are minimal. Little fuel will be used by and little pollution will be generated from, the transport which brings locally-sourced food to a local store.

Evidently, there are many reasons to buy locally. The easiest system to do so is to find a farmer's market, local food outlet and co-operative or farm stand in your local area. You may also encourage local grocery stores to stock products from local farms, or local restaurants to buy more of their products from the same. This way, you will help other people in your community to reduce their food miles as well.  
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