By: Dave Swartz
Let me start by saying that I’m a small business owner and that we should do everything we can to buy and shop locally. Doing so does help stimulate the local economy with jobs and money that is kept and spent in the local community. This is true with most industries, however, there are some industries where the negative effects of buying local far outweigh the positive ones. One industry in particular is the food industry.
So what’s my beef with buying local food? My beef with buying local food is just that, beef. Animal based food products including beef are so harmful to our local environment and the health of the people in our community that buying these products from local producers or national producers should not even be part of the conversation.
According to the UN, World Watch Institute, and numerous other organizations, animal agriculture is responsible for a significant amount of negative environmental impacts. These include waste runoff that pollutes lakes and rivers, ocean dead zones due to excessive amounts of nitrous oxide, wildlife habitat loss due to competition with farmed animals, and a huge portion of greenhouse gas emissions. Why would one want to buy locally produced animal products if the local environment is going to be polluted by those same products?
An article from the Carnegie Mellon Institute that studied that impact of greenhouse gas emissions found that an omnivore buying local food could only achieve a 5 to 6% reduction in emissions compared to an omnivore buying food from non local sources. This reduction would be the same if that same omnivore ate a plant based diet for one day a week. In other words, someone that switches to a plant based diet will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 7 times that amount if he/she ate that way 7 days a week, and that’s from non-local sources. Even more reductions in emissions could be achieved by buying plant based foods from local sources.
Study after study has concluded that eating animal products is a sure way to increase your chances of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and numerous other common diseases. Not only will our local environment be compromised, but our community would will still be contracting the same diseases from locally produced animal products rather than animal based foods shipped from around the country or world. I’m not sure which is better, but I’m guessing if you asked a person with heart disease and type 2 diabetes, you may get some strange looks.
So, next time you think about buying local animal based foods, think twice about your local environment being polluted and your local hospital treating the local community that contracted diseases caused by eating locally produced animal products.
Choose plant based foods. Plant based foods shipped from anywhere on this planet or perhaps from the moon for that matter, are a much better choice than locally produced and processed animal products.
Once the decision has been made to eat plant only items, then yes, buy from your local farmers market or local produce from your local grocer, or perhaps just head down to your basement and grab some food being grown indoors, year round, without pesticides, and with a fraction of the water used in conventional methods in your home. Doesn’t get more local than that.