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June 18, 2018  |  Login
Choosing Your Food Source Wisely: Buying Local and Fairtrade Foods
By Yvonne Jeffery, Liz Barclay & Michael Grosvenor

Despite all the arguments about what food is best in terms of health, there's agreement from an environmental point of view that buying local food is best.

At the heart of all the arguments for eating locally grown produce is the need to cut down on what have become known as food miles, the distance food travels from where it's produced to your plate. Transportation over what can be thousands of miles results in a lot of carbon emissions. The food Americans eat travels an average of 1,500 miles before it gets to the plate. In addition, food that travels a long distance and spends time in storage has fewer nutrients than locally produced food.

However, sometimes buying locally isn't an option, particularly when you're talking about foods that aren't grown in the United States. Enter Fairtrade, a trade program that works to make sure that:

  • Producers in the developing world get fair prices for what they produce.

  • Producers have reasonable working conditions.

  • The processes used in the developing world are sustainable.

Buying Fairtrade items raises the issue of how far the food has traveled to get to you. Is it "greener" to buy the Fairtrade item that may have been transported from the other side of the world but that supports the developing world, or the local item that isn't benefiting the developing world's economy but that contributed far fewer greenhouse gases to the atmosphere? A green lifestyle has room for both: Buy local when you can, and buy Fairtrade when you can't buy local.

For more information, please see:

Go even more in-depth about finding the best and greenest foods in ecomii's Organic Food Guide.



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