I know that an important step we can each take towards reducing greenhouse emissions is buying locally grown produce. I want to know: how many of you do that?
Do you buy only locally grown produce? Where do you buy it? Do you not eat fruits or vegetables that have to be flown to your area?
How do you weigh locally grown vs organic but grown in a distant region in your shopping decisions?
Do you extend the locally-grown mantra to other products that can be imported without refrigeration?
I'll go first.
In recent years, I've been making an effort to buy more organic produce, knowing that the more people who buy it, the more supermarkets will stock it, and the more producers will use organic methods. I do this equally for labour (the effects of conventional pesticides on farm workers), health and environmental concerns. (My niece E should be proud that she has influenced me so much on this.)
I also make an effort to buy local produce, and I always have. Growing up, my family was able to buy produce from local farm stands all summer. I know the immense difference in quality. For a long time, I couldn't even eat certain fruits or vegetables (especially corn, peaches or tomatoes) from a supermarket; they tasted like cardboard to me. And I know first-hand how it helps the local economy and ecology.
That's the plus side.
On the downside, if I want to eat fruits or vegetables that are not available locally-grown, I buy them anyway. That is, at our local Loblaws, if there are apples from Ontario and apples from the US, I choose the Ontario apples.
But if the grapes look good and they're only grown in the US, I buy them. I buy pineapples and bananas that are grown nowhere near here, but are organically grown. Before the Ontario asparagus showed up, I was buying asparagus from Peru (purposely - in Peru we learned that asparagus is a new crop that's helping small farmers survive).
I don't know what, if anything, to do about this. There's no farmer's market for us (there is a large farmer's market in Mississauga, but it takes place while we're at work), so there's no convenient alternative source for produce. And I'm not prepared to give up eating a variety of healthy produce that I enjoy. Not yet, anyway. I might get there.
These decisions bring further questions, that some of you probably know the answer to.
Does distance matter? Are grapes from California better than grapes from Chile or Brazil? Or once it's non-local, it's non-local, period?
I assume, also, that the product matters. I saw fresh salmon from Chile, and thought of the energy consumed in importing that fish, fresh, from such a distance. Where, say, olive oil imported from a Mediterranean country doesn't have to be kept cold and fresh during transport. So buying fresh salmon from Chile would be worse, environmentally speaking, than buying Greek olive oil. (Leaving aside the issue of the mercury in the fish...)
OK, your turn. What do you do? How do you do it? Be honest.