The Surprisingly Big Impact of Buying Local Food

The topic I am writing about is the question of whether or not eating local food is better for us and the environment. Cracked.com makes the argument that eating locally grown food is does not help us much at all because of all the CO2 it releases into the air. The Cracked writers did not list a supportive academic article about their claim but I did find an article on http://www.worldwatch.org titled “Is Local Food Better?” that agrees with what they are saying. These writers are trying to show that local food damages the environment just as much as imported food from far away places. One subject they get into is “food miles,” which is the number of miles it takes to ship the food to its destination where it is sold. The article claims that trains are ten times more efficient than trucks, which means that a truck shipping food from 100 miles away (which is widely considered as “local”) has the same impact on the environment as a train shipping food from 1000 miles away. However, transportation only counts for eleven percent of total carbon emission by food.

Dairy products seem to be a big problem for the environment as methane, which comes from cows, sheep, and goats, has been studied and shown to be 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. That’s not even taking into account the nitrous oxide, which is 296 times more potent than carbon dioxide, that comes from the breakdown of manure.

In the end, this article claims that although local food is delicious, but the problems that come with it are global. It goes much farther into depth on the subject than the Cracked.com article. The only study that Cracked talks about is a study on buying locally grown lamb or lamb shipped from New Zealand. The study was done by a university in New Zealand so the article may have some bias to it, however their results show that it is four times more carbon intensive to buy local lamb than to buy New Zealand-shipped lamb. That study has been done at other places and they have gathered the same results according to Cracked. Cracked also talks about wasted food. They say that 40 percent of locally grown food isn’t eaten, but that’s about as far as they go into that subject.

What can be determined from the results of these studies is that buying locally grown food has a huge impact on the environment. What cannot be determined is that these results may not be true for every place. One of the studies talked about in the world watch article talks about how tomatoes grown in Spain are better for Swedes to buy than Swedish tomatoes, because the Spanish tomatoes were grown in open fields rich with sunshine and the Swedish tomatoes were grown in fossil-fuel-heated greenhouses. So it may depend on where the food is grown if it is more efficient to the environment.

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