I have come across some great literature surrounding our term’s topic of “The Economics of Traveling Food.” There is definitely a growing movement toward buying food from local communities. The movement has some very good economic and environmental reasons backing their decision.
From the economic perspective, buying food locally is one of the ways people can support business in the community they live in. This helps keep people employed and improves the overall quality of living.
Environmentally speaking, transporting food from one part of the world to another takes gasoline and other fossil fuels. Buying local food minimizes the amount of fuel needed to transport the food to the customer. This, in turn, minimizes the environmental impact from carbon emissions and other pollutants.
But, what does “local food” actually mean? One definition, adopted by the US Congress in the 2008 Food, Conservation, and Energy Act, states the following (according to the USDA): “the total distance that a product can be transported and still be considered a "locally or regionally produced agricultural food product" is less than 400 miles from its origin, or within the State in which it is produced”. However, the USDA recognizes, there is no consensus on the definition of “local food”. This means, much of the burden of deciding what is considered “local”, is left up to the consumer.
This question gives us (as consumers) much more to think about over and above just what to buy. With thinking about how we define “local food”, we are forced to think about how we want to vote with our dollar. Questioning this helps us become better informed.
So, in conclusion, I leave you with some food for thought: How would you define local food?