Pastured bone broth: I finally found a shelf-stable brand that is made from grass-fed cows! If you don’t have time to spend hours making your own bone broth, Kettle & Fire makes a game-changing broth from organic bones, slow-cooked to draw out the nutrients and collagen hidden deep inside. Get it here.
In keeping with the international flavor mash-up that is today’s post, I am sharing the conclusions of some personal preliminary research on whether eating local food is more environmentally-friendly. Perhaps your first thought is “of course”. Doesn’t food grown close to home help prevent global warming because it requires less fossil fuel to transport? But after reading an article on the topic of whether locally-produced food is more environmentally friendly in the journal Environmental and Resource Economics, I now know it is a more nuanced issue than I previously suspected.
The authors state in the abstract: We concentrate on the tradeoff between production and transport emissions reductions by testing the following hypothesis: Substitution of domestic for imported food will reduce the direct and indirect Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions associated with consumption. We focus on ruminant livestock since it has the highest emissions intensity across food sectors… While shifting consumption patterns in wealthy countries from imported to domestic livestock products reduces GHG emissions associated with international trade and transport activity, we find that these transport emissions reductions are swamped by changes in global emissions due to differences in GHG emissions intensities of production.
This means that the environmental benefit of eating food produced locally is outweighed by the environmental cost of said local production. Why? Because producing food “intensively” (on a mass scale, in a location that enjoys advantages of climate and other environmental factors, with the addition of specialized technology, etc.) may, at least in some dimensions, be more environmentally-friendly than areas with less intensified production (because greater intensity often means more efficient).
For further reading on this topic, take a look at the following articles:
- Food Miles Don’t Go the Distance
- Food Miles are Just a Form of Protectionism
- How the Myth of Food Miles Hurts the Planet
- The Inefficiency of Local Food
Perhaps as much as we would hope that buying local food is the most environmentally-friendly option, in some cases, it isn’t. Let’s be clear, locally-produced food provides many benefits aside from fewer food miles. In addition to probable advantages of freshness, local food production can:
- Anchor communities and beautify blighted areas
- Be an educational resource
- Solve an important problem of access for disadvantaged populations
- Support the local economy
- Be more likely to avoid the misuse of chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones, or other substances that endanger the environment and human health
- Bolster insect diversity, enrich the soil, and create border areas for wildlife
- Be tastier (since industrial food is bred to withstand long-distance shipping and mechanical harvesting)
This Slow-Cooker Spiced Pork Ramen recipe honors our global food system with its internationally-inspired flavors. It is also a wonderful thing to prep on Sunday night and enjoy throughout the week… just hold off on cooking the mushrooms and heating the noodles until the night you’ll enjoy it. Add the toppings fresh each time, too!Print