“The transcontinental head of lettuce, grown in the Salinas Valley of California and shipped to Washington D.C., requires about 36 times as much fossil fuel energy in transport as it provides in food energy when it arrives.” (Eat Here—a worldwatch book)
We are eating oil, not food. It is not an efficient use of resources. This inefficiency of resources—namely grains—was enough to convince me to shift to a vegetarian diet back in college. It was also cheaper….and then, I decided that I didn’t really like meat anymore. Maybe being a meat wrapper and watching all of those bloody London Broils go by had something to do with it, too. And the intellectual appeal of eating closer to home did have some affect on my decision to shift to a more locally grown diet. But it wasn’t enough to change our habits.
It really started three Decembers ago. We had been eating only local produce since early June, between my garden and our Early Winter CSA box. But, a week after the box ended, we ran out of veggies and I had to go to the co-op once more. I bought a lovely head of broccoli, came home, and placed it on the chopping block. The stems were tough! And desiccated! A little brown around the edges! “What is this,” I wondered. “A dead broccoli?!” It wasn’t tender, or sweet, or a lovely light green… and I did not want to eat it. That was it. Local produce, even a month of kale and mustard greens, was a better option than dead broccoli. And, despite an occasional banana, or a red pepper in March, we haven’t looked back. Local produce is just tastier.