Cutting Down on Food Miles Tips to Help You Cut Down on Food Miles

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Lots of tomatoes to go lots of miles!

Have you ever thought about the fuel it takes to get food to the grocery store? Produce from large farms is harvested using gas-powered machinery. It is then transported – often hundreds or even thousands of miles – by airplane or truck to your local store. It is estimated that produce on average travels 1500 miles in the U.S. That’s a lot of fossil fuel for a head of lettuce! This is what is referred to as food miles. Here we consider cutting down on food miles – tips to help you cut down your food miles.

Another consideration to consider is the safety of food and nutrients in food. The longer food sits, the more chance there is that it will be exposed to dangerous bacteria such as salmonella or e-coli. If food has been processed and shipped for long distances, it is usually sprayed with preservatives to keep it “fresh” during the long journey. Fresh fruits and vegetables are often coated with wax to prevent them from drying out during transport. In the meantime, nutrients are lost as the foods sit for extended periods of time.

If you’d like to cut down your food miles, here are some ideas for <a href=” target=”_new” rel=”follow”><b>sustainable foods</b></a> that can help.

1. Grow your own food. This is not necessarily the tenuous task that it may seem like at first. You don’t need vast amounts of sunny acreage to make a sustainable garden. If you do have a moderately-sized or large yard, however, consider sectioning off part of it for a garden.

If not, try container gardening. Tomatoes, cucumbers, and strawberries are particularly suited for pots or containers. Get creative; you don’t need to spend a lot of money on commercial flower pots. Use flower boxes for lettuces, old pots or buckets for strawberries or tomatoes, and hanging baskets for cucumbers. Many herbs and even vegetables can be grown indoors in sunny windows.

2. Forgo the imports where you can. Tropical fruit is, of course, grown in the tropics, and unless you live there, the tropics are a long way from home. This includes canned and dried tropical fruits as well. Another point to consider when purchasing imported foods is the safety factor. Do we really know where it is from, and what types of environmental and food protections are in place? They may contain deadly toxins used as pesticides as some of the third world countries we get our foods from are up to the same standards as we are when it comes to environmental and food safety protocols.

3. Buy locally grown food. Not only will you get seasonal vegetables that are well suited to your body’s needs, 100% fresh off the vine so to speak and you’ll be supporting your local community. And, of course, you’ll greatly reduce your miles buying local grown food. In fact, if there is a farm nearby where you can pick your own produce, that’s the best! Now were talking fresh! Carpool with your friends and family and collectively gather your own produce by hand – no need for gas-guzzling harvesters.

4. Speaking of seasonal produce, buying food when it’s in season reduces miles. If you live in New York, for example, and you want strawberries in mid-January, you will have to buy berries that have been shipped from somewhere much warmer (and farther away). A better option is to stock up and freeze or can your own summer strawberries and use those to assuage your January berry craving! You’ll save money buying produce in season, too. Maybe our recent ancestors weren’t so old fashioned after all, now were they?

I hope that you will consider cutting down on food miles – tips to help you cut down your food miles, your palette and stomach will be grateful as well as your family, friends and community!

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