|Wednesday What’s New: A New Look at Local Food Systems|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Wednesday, 18 July 2012|
Santa Barbara, CA has one most people would say is a thriving agricultural local food system. It ranks in the top 1 percent of counties in the US in value of agricultural products, primarily fruits and vegetables. One might assume that a local food network like this might be of significance when it comes to reducing greenhouse gases (less fuel to transport produce) and increase nutrition (fresher produce is more nutritious).
Surprisingly, as researcher David Cleveland, a professor of environmental studies at UC-Santa Barbara found out, that assumption would be wrong. What Cleveland and his research team discovered was that more than 99 percent of the produce grown in Santa Barbara County is exported, and more than 95 percent of the produce consumed in the county is imported, some of it from as far away as Chile, Argentina, and New Zealand.
Furthermore, if all produce consumed here was grown in the county, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions less than 1 percent of total agrifood system emissions, and it would not necessarily affect nutrition.
Because when you buy local produce at your neighborhood chain grocery store that local produce may be local, but it may have been shipped to the grocer’s warehouse in another county or state and then shipped back to the neighborhood store.
In other words, fuel used to transport the produce plus turnaround time in shipping the local produce back to where it originated negates most of the environmental and health effects usually associated with local food—at least in the grocery store.
Something to think about…
Source: Localizing Fruit, Vegetable Consumption Doesn't Necessarily Solve Environmental, Health Issues, Study Suggests
Photo source: http://chiotsrun.com