Eat Local Challenge Part 1

Local fruits sold at Whole Foods

Going green has become the new black.  Not only is sustainability trendy, it’s a necessity if we have any desire to leave the next few generations a world they can live in.  For today’s post I’m going to pick on one particular issue under the larger umbrella of disastrous crimes against mother earth.

Food consumption in America.

This issue is tricky because we all need to eat.  Modern conveniences has afforded most of us food accessibility and food options beyond imagination.  We are free to pursue careers and work jobs outside of a one acre radius from our homes because we no longer spend our days tending and harvesting crops for our family and community.  I acknowledge the value  and role in which modern agricultural practices enable the lives we live today.

However, what’s the price of this lifestyle on our environment?

Our nation’s hearty appetite for cattle means that more land is used to raise beef.  More cattle means more methane released into the atmosphere adding to the greenhouse affect.  According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,

…the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation.

Livestock reportedly uses some 30% of the world’s land surface.  Meat production also requires energy and water.  The Sierra Club asserts that,

16 pounds of wheat and up to 2,500 gallons of water are necessary to produce one pound of grain-fed beef. Cattle production also consumes large amounts of fossil fuels – about a gallon of gasoline per pound of beef – and produces water pollution.

Grains, fruits, and vegetables are environmental culprits as well, especially when we eat out of season and out of region produce.  Non-organic produce uses harmful pesticides and chemicals in the soil and on the food itself.  Also, shipping that mango to New York from the Philippines leaves a significant carbon footprint, adding to greenhouse gases.

Buying local reduces your carbon footprint

The Eat Local Challenge

Kanu Hawaii, a local non-profit dedicated to sustainability and community compassion launched an “Eat Local Challenge” today with the goal of getting 2,000 Kanu Hawaii members to eat locally-grown food for seven days (September 26 – October 2).  Alternatives to this challenge included eating local for a day, allocating 10% of your food budget to local foods, learning about candidates views on food policies for the upcoming election, and organizing a local food only potluck among many other ideas.

I’m taking on parts of this challenge (eating locally-grown foods for a day and allocating 10% of my grocery budget to local produce) to help reduce the environmental impact of living a modern life.  Eating locally will also help me eat more healthy, which I’ll talk about in the follow up post.

So far I’ve been grocery shopping once.  I’m happy to report everything I bought, except for free-range chicken was 100% locally-grown.  I didn’t buy much though.  Just a mango, half a pound of ahi, fresh salsa, buk choy, flat beans, and apple bananas.  This is also what I plan to eat tonight.

It was challenging to buy food for the week.  Considering where I live (Hawaii), it was disappointing to see how little food I could buy with these restrictions.  Luckily organizers of this Eat Local Challenge have put together resources on where to buy locally and have also partnered with various restaurants to highlight where in their menu, locally-grown produce is being used.

What do you think of the Eat Local Challenge?  How easily could you pull it off?  If you’re already doing something similar please share your thoughts and tips.

Happy eating everyone.

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