| By Mia Reid
On every corner of urbanized communities is a supermarket offering thousands of products and produce shipped from all over the world. While grocery stores are a convenient and inexpensive option for quick shopping, they do little to benefit the community economically and environmentally. There is also little information on where the produce comes from, and is often shipped from thousands of miles away. Imagine the fossil fuels expended and nutrients lost in transit. Fleet Farming’s mission is to farm locally for a healthier, more connected world to change the cycle of food accessibility.
For every calorie of food we consume, ten fossil fuel calories are expended into the atmosphere. By shopping locally, the need for food transportation is eliminated, and less space is utilized for storage facilities. Minimizing miles of shipping from farm to table reduces harmful greenhouse gases or CO2 emissions. The typical American meal travels an average of 1,500 miles to the dinner table, but Fleet Farming reduces the distance to only 5 miles from the farm to plate. Farmers markets allow residents to walk or bike to buy their groceries rather than travel by car. Local food also helps reduce waste from packaging that ends up in landfills.
Local food creates jobs supported by the food industry such as supplies and labor. From the USDA’s Economic Research Service, local food markets create 13 farm operator jobs for every 1 million dollars in sales. Farmers that sell locally benefit from cutting out the “middleman” in the food system. Farmers markets create jobs within the community and attracts tourism. A popular local food market also encourages local restaurants to buy produce from farmers within the community. Fleet Farming sells produce to local restaurants and farmers markets, increasing the Orlando economy.
Our society is rapidly growing into a technologically isolated environment, which is why it’s important to encourage people to go out and get involved in their community. Networking is an important step towards success for most individuals and businesses. Urban agriculture creates an easy platform for individuals in a community to form connections with each other. When you pay a visit to your local farmers markets, you are able to form a personal relationship with the farmer who grows your food. Community gardens inspire people to come together to grow not only food, but also lasting friendships.
Staying local with your produce and what you put on the table can have a great beneficial impact on your health. Having a knowledge of where your food is grown can eliminate multiple health risk factors that can affect you and your family. Buying local and knowing how your food was grown by local farmers can reduce the chance of bringing in foods that have been contaminated, foods that have added pesticides, and less potential food safety issues such as incorrect harvesting or washing. Locally grown food also contains a great deal of more nutrients because of the shorter time between farm and your table; the time that can decrease the value of nutrients in your food. Local produce is fresher and choosing from a variety of foods that are in season can also contain more nutrients rather than produce that is not.
Sources: Rodale Institute, GoGreen, Arrowquip