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May 24, 2018  |  Login

Veg Out in Your Garden

Plant your own vegetable garden to reduce your carbon footprint and eat healthier.

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Have you ever thought about how far your food has traveled to reach your dinner table?  According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, most produce in the United States travels 1300-2000 miles to arrive on your plate.  This distance represents what food and environmental scientists refer to as “food miles,” how far food is transported before it reaches the consumer.

The environmental impact of this “farm to fork” distance can be profound.  Consider the carbon dioxide emitted as the produce is transported.  A study done by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture reports that the transportation of “conventional” produce (bought at a supermarket) emits over 8,300,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, compared to the 500,000 pounds emitted by the transportation of regionally grown produce, easily available at local farmer’s markets.  Theoretically, this amount could be reduced to 0 if you grow the veggies in your own backyard!

Growing your own produce has many other advantages.  When you eat vegetables you’ve grown, they will be fresher, healthier, and purer than anything you can find at the supermarket.  You will know exactly what has gone into the food you grow, so you can guarantee the absence of dangerous pesticides, chemical fertilizers, etc.  Additionally, it is undeniably satisfying to watch food grow in your own backyard as a result of your care and labor.  Taking care of a garden can be a very healing and meditative activity.  There are plenty of guides available to help you determine what kind of produce is best to grow in your area, and how to do it.  There is no better way to feel more connected to nature or to the food you eat!


Take Action / Next Steps
  • To learn more about the benefits of planting a garden organically, check out this tip from ecomii .
  • Try this interactive tool from the Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation that calculates the environmental impact of your meals.


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Did You Know?

Click below for more facts about this tip.



1.Baker, Brian P., et al. [May 2002] “Pesticide residues in conventional, IPM-grown and organic foods.” Food Additives and Contaminants, Vol. 19, No. 5. Available from: [15 July 2008]

2.Deumling, Diana, et al. [July 2003] “Eating Up the Earth.” Redefining Progress. Available from: [21 July 2008]

3.Hughes, Kate. [26 April 2008] “Grow Your Own Veg—You’ll Dig the Savings”. The London Independent. Available from: [15 July 2008]

4.Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. “Food, Fuel, and Freeways.” Available from: [21 July 2008]

5.National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. “Reducing Food Miles.” Available from: [21 July 2008]

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