Eat Local – Buy Local – Grow Local – Sell Local

Climate and Environmentally Friendly Diets

It is hard to miss all the attention being given to climate change, peak oil, peak water, peak fish, and peak soil- just about peak everything as our toll on the planet rises. We can all be part of the solution simply by eating locally grown and produced foods.

Eating local reduces the distance that food travels (food miles) and the emissions produced during transportation, thereby resulting in a smaller carbon/ecological footprint or “foodprint”. This helps us to take a BITE out of climate change!

A 2005 Study of food miles in Waterloo Region made the following conclusions on food miles:

  • Imports to Waterloo Region of 58 commonly-eaten food items travel 4,497 km on average, and account for 51,709 tonnes of GHG emissions annually. Since all of the studied food items could be grown or raised in Waterloo Region, a significant opportunity exists to reduce our contribution to global climate change and air pollution by replacing imports of the studied food items with food items sourced from Waterloo Region or South-western Ontario. Replacing all the studied food items with products of South-western Ontario would produce an annual reduction in GHG emissions of 49,485 tonnes, equivalent to taking 16,191 cars off our roads. Strategies to strengthen to the local food system and make purchasing local food more convenient for consumers have the potential to reduce the environmental impact of food miles in Waterloo Region.” (Region of Waterloo Public Health, “Food Miles: Environmental Implications of Food Imports to Waterloo Region”, November 2005)

Other research has come to the following conclusions on Reducing “Food Miles” and Greenhouse Gas Emissions:

  • A 2005 report by FoodShare in Toronto compared a basket of local fruits and vegetables (from a farmers’ market) to imported fruits and vegetables (from the supermarket) and found that the local produce travelled an average of 101 km to reach the consumer, whereas the imported produce travelled an average of 5,364 km to reach the consumer. The basket of local products contributed 118.67 grams of CO2 emissions, whereas the basket of imported products contributed 11,886.867 grams of CO2 emissions or 100 times more (Foodshare – Bentley, S. ” Fighting Global Warming at the Farmers’ Market: The Role of Local Food Systems in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions, 2005)
  • A study by the Worldwatch Institute in Iowa found that a regional diet consumed 17 times less oil and gas than a typical diet based on food shipped across the country.

In addition to eating locally, other ways to ensure your diet is climate friendly include:

  1. Eat with the Seasons
  2. Shop Local
  3. Cook fresh
  4. Eat more plants
  5. Grow Your Own
  6. Savour the harvest
  7. Local Alternatives
  8. Avoid food waste

(Caledon Countryside Alliance, “Take a Bite Out of Climate Change Pledge”, 2009)