About Eating Local

Defining Our Terms

What does it really mean to eat local? I’ll admit, it depends on who you ask. For some it’s a matter of radius, for others, a matter of state allegiance, and yet for others it’s about consuming sustainable and eco-friendly food. At Local Leaf, we see the local food movement as an opportunity to engage our local community, integrate nutritious seasonal foods into our diet, and support the local economy. In short, it’s about community and sustainability–for us and the planet. The U.S. government seems to agree.

In 2008, Congress passed the “Consolidation and Rural Development Act” (H.R.2419). According to the act, “the locality or region in which the final product is marketed, so that the total distance that the product is transported is less than 400 miles from the origin of the product.” Since this legislations was passed, 400 miles has become the standard mark for local food. For the local movement advocates, eating local is about region. It is also about the short-term and long-term implications of the food we eat.

Eating Local in NYC

In a city of 8.5 million people, it’s easy to overlook the processes behind the lives we live. We are busy paying rent, commuting to work, and and keeping up with friends. However, after two years in this city, I’m realizing that sometimes we lose the intentionality in the people we meet, the food we eat, and the tasks we complete. And when it comes to food, most of us would rather eat out one more meal than carry groceries from Trader Joe’s to our apartments. And when you have authentic Mediterranean and comforting pub food right down the street, why would be bother?

I still go out with friends and eat tacos. I believe that if you’re not eating out in New York City, you are missing out. However, I also believe that if you’re not eating in with the people you love, you’re also missing out.

Eating local is not meant to be restrictive. It’s not something I do all the time, either. Rather, choosing to eating local more often has given me a shift in mindset as I live in New York City. To me, the local food movement is an opportunity to be slow and intentional in a busy city. Eating local is an opportunity to support the farmers, bakers, florists, and artists around us.

 

References:

Ayala, Sharon. 2013. “The Great Food Fight: Local vs. Global.” ViewPoint, Point Loma Nazarene University.

2008. “Consolidates and Rural Development Act.” H.R.2419.

Cho, Renee. 2012. “How Green is Local Food?” State of the Planet, Columbia University.

Messenburg, Mary. 2013. “Why Local Food is Better for You.” Rodale Institute.

Grubinger, Vern. 2004. With an Ear to the Ground. Northeast Region SARE.