Think global, eat local veganic

Supporting local veganic farmers not only helps to reduce your ecological footprint, it also creates a viable livelihood for the farmers, and it responds to the problems surrounding globalized agriculture.

While the importation of foreign foods has been happening on a relatively small scale for hundreds of years, this practice has increased dramatically during the last century with the boom of the transportation industry. Cheap fossil fuels and technological advancements have made it possible to import and export food on a massive scale: in a typical grocery store, it’s now a challenging scavenger hunt to find food items produced within your own region. While it may seem like a consumer’s paradise to have every type of food available all year round, this constant variety and availability has far-reaching implications.

When large-scale corporations compete for the dollar of consumers who expect convenience and low-prices, there is frequently negligence of the environment and of working conditions. Often, natural ecosystems are devastated to make way for monocultures and workers are paid low wages as food producers try to make their products a few cents cheaper.

By choosing to buy locally you can lessen your environmental impact and provide a decent livelihood for local farmers. When purchasing within your area, it is possible to witness the farming techniques and labour conditions and also to start a dialogue with the farmers. For consumers who would like to purchase veganic food, proposing these ideas to local organic farmers is a great place to start. Check farmer’s markets and internet listings to find organic farmers in your region.

Finding veganic food in your area

Currently, most farms use chemicals or animal products as fertilizers, and veganic farming is only practiced on a small number of commercial farms in North America. You can look at the list of farms on our website to see if there is a farm near you (to be expanded shortly) or you can also use a search engine to see if the words “veganic” or “vegan organic” are matched with the names of cities in your area.

If there is not a farm near you, don’t fret—there are alternatives. When speaking with local organic farmers, express your interest in purchasing veganic produce. It is possible to create veganic buying opportunities by collaborating with local farmers when the initiatives are mutually beneficial. Alternately, you can start your own veganic garden, and even people who live in apartments can grow plant-based food at home.

The cost of local organic food

When simply making financial comparisons, organic food sometimes appears more costly. Conventional food, however, carries many hidden costs. The loss of biodiversity, increased CO2 emissions, water contamination and pesticide residues are a high price to pay, both environmentally and for human health. Organic food is not expensive, but rather conventional food prices are artificially low, much like poorly-made goods at a dollar store. Conventional food is often produced in countries where workers are underpaid or on land that is overexploited using unsustainable techniques. In addition, food prices are driven even lower by subsidies aimed at large conventional farms. The cost of local organic food is a more accurate reflection of costs when food is produced in a non-exploitative manner.

Local organic food is a wise investment for personal and global well-being. And by purchasing organic food directly from local farmers while it’s in season, rather than imported organic food from grocery stores, these foods are often sold at good prices. By joining a CSA (community shared agriculture) and buying a share in a farm before the season begins, you can enjoy fresh local produce all summer long at great prices while ensuring financial security for the farmer.

Conscious consumerism of imported food

For imported food, it is best to support projects that preserve biodiversity and have fair working standards. Look for fair trade companies, and companies with high environmental standards. In this way it is still possible to contribute to the economies of other countries while ensuring that your contributions are helpful, not harmful.

Eating local in the winter

During the winter in colder climates it is still possible to eat local. In the summertime, large amounts of local food can be dehydrated or canned (at a fairly low energy cost) or frozen, and saved until the winter. Legumes, beans and grains can easily be preserved. Winter squash and root vegetables can last several months in the right conditions and can often be purchased from local farmers during the winter. By growing sprouts indoors you can provide yourself with fresh food containing plenty of vitamins and chlorophyll.


24 January 2009
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