Eating Local: Just the Facts
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Be in the Know
Farming in this country has gone from small-scale farms who feed their communities, families, and friends to huge conglomerates that feed the entire U.S. With growth come the dangers of poor living conditions of the animals, cheap labor to work the factories, and local farmers being forced out of the picture by cheaper prices. And it makes economic sense — to a degree. Why spend $7/lb. of beef when you can get it for $2.97 in store? Despite this, you have to take a look at what you are buying.
Grass raised beef has more flavor, more Omega 3 and 6, less fat, better livable conditions while they are grazing with humane, caring individuals who raise them. Conglomerates have hundreds of thousands of heads of cattle who never see grass, eat corn, can’t walk, and live in their own disease-ridden feces. They then cut them up, package it all and sell it to you.
CDC says that foodborne illnesses cause more than 52,000 deaths each year.
When you buy a pound of hamburger at the local grocery store, there are literally thousands of cows ground up in that one small package of meat. So if any of those cows that were slaughtered had E. coli, the risk of contamination not only affects your pound of burger, but thousands of pounds sold all over the country. The amount of beef recalls from E. coli grows extensively as beef conglomerates continue to put out product.
Who’s to say that it won’t be your burger next time? Know where your beef comes from. Meet your local farmers, talk about their farming practices and be confident in what you know and what you feed your family.
One-fifth of our fuel consumption goes to the growing, packaging and transporting of food.
A Farmer’s Share of the Retail Dollar
At a typical grocery store, $0.91 of every dollar you spend goes to suppliers, processors, middlemen and marketers. Yep, only 9/100 of the dollar goes to the producers of the food! In the U.S., a wheat farmer might get $0.37 for a 5 lb. bag of flour that retails at $1.79. For a gallon of milk that retails at $3.59, the farmer gets $1.24 at best. For a loaf of bread, a farmer only gets about $0.07, roughly the cost of the plastic bag the bread is in. At the farmer’s market or on farms that sell directly to consumers, 80-90 cents of every dollar you spend stays with the farmer. Just another reason to EAT LOCAL! (National Farmers Union, www.nfu.org)
More than 17,000 new packaged foods are introduced to grocery stores every year. An invisible evil to having seasons all year round at your fingertips is the amount of oil and gas used.
What’s in Season?
If you’re shopping at the farmer’s market, you know what’s in season and healthiest for you at that time of year. But in the grocery store, out-of-season produce lines the shelves in the name of convenience and modern food production methods. Out-of-season strawberries, for example, have to travel great distances to reach you in January, requiring they be picked when unripe (and often less tasty), thus damaging the environment. For a calendar of what’s in season when, visit www.sustainabletable.org/shop/eatseasonal.
6th Annual Eat Local Challenge
Eating locally can be a challenge, but as a community we can make it easier for everyone! And we’d love to hear your ideas, tips, and stories about eating locally and supporting our local farmers, co-ops, and markets!
WIN: Gift Certificates to Hahn’s, Just Local Food, Locally Made Food, T-shirts, and MORE. We’ll print all the entries right here on our website—for all to try, enjoy, and pass on to friends.