Eating foods that are locally grown can make a big difference, but it doesn’t trump eating low on the food chain as the most effective way to reverse wilderness destruction, climate change emissions, pollution and other ills. Shifting to an entirely local diet would reduce the equivalent greenhouse gas emissions as driving 1,000 miles per year. By comparison changing to a plant-based diet for just one day per week would have about the same impact! For those who eat the average North American diet (centered on meat), shifting entirely to a vegetarian-based diet would reduce the same emissions as driving 8,000 miles per year. The average American drives 12,000 miles per year.
Modes of Transport: Did you know?
Buying locally grown food supports nearby farmers, and greatly reduces the energy and resources necessary to transport and store foods. There are three main modes of transport:
By land – Typically, produce from Mexico or California is shipped in refrigerated trucks. When you buy long-distance food, part of the price you pay is for fuel and the truck. You are also supporting the need for wide highways that carve their way through wilderness areas, creating barriers and hazards for wildlife.
By air – Fresh food from other continents is frequently own in by airplanes. Planes require staggering amounts of fuel to lift produce and meat into the air and across oceans.
By sea – According to a UN study reported in the “Guardian”, shipping is responsible for 4.5% of all global emissions of CO2 – almost three times higher than previously believed. Ships exploit a ready supply of the world’s cheapest, most polluting “bunker” fuel.