Locally Grown Food
Humanities Critical Analysis
Choosing to eat locally grown food rather than imports can decrease our carbon footprint. Transporting food over long distances to multiple locations pollutes the environment by releasing greenhouse gases. Therefore buying locally grown food or growing your own food is less environmentally harmful because the food does not have to travel as far.
However the environmental impact of food also depends on how it was grown and transported. According to Sarah Deweerdt of Worldwatch Institute, "trains are 10 times more efficient at moving freight… than trucks are" (1). Transporting food in a truck pollutes the environment more than transporting food in a train.
Depending on the environment it was grown in, importing food may be less harmful to the environment than growing it locally. It may be better to buy imported food because it was grown in open fields, while the local food was grown in fossil-fuel-heated greenhouses (1).
In 2014, 56 students at Albert Park College were surveyed on their views and opinions around eating locally grown food. The respondents were aged between 12-17 and were males and females. The purpose of the survey was to determine whether young people are aware of the impacts of producing food, and what they are willing to do to decrease the impact.
Graphical Representation of Data
A survey conducted in the United States also found that consumers prefer locally grown food. Consumers were offered two baskets of strawberries under different price, farm location and farm type, asking which they would prefer to buy. The researchers found that local production made the biggest difference when deciding which they prefer. Many shoppers were willing to pay more for strawberries that were produced on small farms using sustainable practices (2).
Most students do not know where their food has been grown. There are approximately twice as many students who do not know where their food has been grown, as there are who do know. 45% of students know that the majority of their food is grown in Australia, while 46% do not know where their food was grown. A small 9% of students know that their food is not grown in Australia.
26 students grow their own food and 22 go to a farmer's market once a month. This shows that approximately half of the students are trying to consume food that is organic and reduce their carbon footprint.
By conducting the survey it was also found that 10 students completely support locavorism, grown some of their own food and always buy locally grown food when possible. However 12 students do not know what locavorism is. While some students are educated on the affects importing food has on the environment, a lot of students have not been informed of the impact it has. This may be the reason that not all students try to buy local food.
10 students surveyed would like to be a locavore, but do not have the time or money. The reasoning for this may be that it is difficult to find food grown in Australia in supermarkets. The food may be too expensive or they do not have enough time to grow their own food.
Whether students should be encouraged to support locavorism is uncertain. There are benefits to importing food, as well as transporting locally grown food. According to Living In Harmony, an organisation of the University of Florida, there are many benefits to purchasing locally grown food including energy conservation, by decreasing dependence on petroleum, a non-renewable energy source. Buying locally grown food is also healthier for you. Food loses nutrients when transported across a long distance. Buying locally grown food also supports local farmers, protects genetic diversity and preserves the agricultural landscape (3).
However a Marketplace article argues that locavorism has a negative impact. Pierre Desrochers, the author of the article, states that "locavorism would not only mean lower standards of living and shorter life expectancies, but also increased environmental damage" (4). According to the article, the price of food would increase and their would be less variation. The amount of energy used to grow food locally is more harmful than transporting food across a long distance. Growing food locally does not increase food security because no local food system can be completely protected from natural damage.
Overall, it is difficult to determine whether students should be encouraged to consume locally grown food. However we should encourage them to buy food from farmers they can trust.
Based on research, buying locally grown food has both positive and negative impacts. Instead of changing the way food is transported, we may need to focus on how it is produced. Introducing sustainable practices on more farms may minimise the damage caused by producing food.
In the future, the same survey could be given to adults to investigate their opinions and knowledge on locally grown food. Another survey could also be conducted asking respondents questions about what locavorism is specifically. This would allow us to discover if people know the affects of importing food.
2. Moskowitz, Clara. "Shoppers Prefer Locally-Grown Food, Study Finds." LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 10 June 2008. Web. 11 Oct. 2014. <http://www.livescience.com/2582-shoppers-prefer-locally-grown-food-study-finds.html>.
3. "Locally Grown Food." Living in Harmony. University of Florida, n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2014. <http://www.wec.ufl.edu/>.
4. Desrochers, Pierre. "Locavorism Is Not Good for You." Marketplace. N.p., 4 July 2012. Web. 9 Oct. 2014. <marketplace.org>.