Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon write in their 2007 book Plenty: Eating Locally On The 100 Mile Diet, "the food we eat now typically travels between 1,500 and 3,000 miles from farm to plate. The distance had increased by up to 25 percent between 1980 and 2001, when the study was published. It was likely continuing to climb." Though they refused to drive a fuel-inefficient SUV they noted, "we were living on an SUV diet." Barbara Kingsolver says in her 2007 book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, "getting the crop from seed to harvest takes only one-fifth of the total oil used for our food. The lion's share is consumed during the trip from the farm to your plate. Each food item in a typical U.S. meal has traveled an average of 1,500 miles."
We have tried to choose foods that are:
My breakfast for the past week has been oatmeal with strawberries from our berry patch, oh so good, I will miss this in a couple of weeks. The milk is organic and from two states away. The oatmeal is chemical-free and I don't know from where it was shipped. I could ask at the health food store, but then I might learn that it came from a company in California and likely they shipped the oats in from the Midwest, it becomes a long and complicated story. I met a trucker once whose job it was to truck butter from Wisconsin to Washington State to be quartered and then trucked it back to the company in Wisconsin for distribution, apparently it was more economical to produce butter this way. Think of the miles that butter put on before it reached your kitchen.
I said to my husband last week as I came in from the garden with a handful of radishes and strawberries, "it is a good thing we are not trying to 'live off our land', because we would be pretty hungry with this meager offering".
My point is, we may not be able to live on a totally local diet all the time, but we can make smarter choices about our food. Too often we don't know where our food comes from or who grew or raised it, how the animals or workers were treated, or what was done to our produce before it reached our table.
We should have a connection to our food that makes our meal something more than a way to fill our stomachs.