Eat Local, Strengthen Your Local Economy and Save the Planet
If you want to be more environmentally friendly and really make a difference in your part of the world you can simply change one habit and see long lasting results. You can make a difference to the planet, and to your local economy by selecting where you eat and what you eat. This applies to eating out and dining in your own home.
On the back of the menu at the restaurant it said “Good to Know, $100 spent in a locally owned business generates about $48 worth of local economic activity. $100 spent in a global retailer equates to only $13 for the local economy.”.
A restaurant in your local area is not necessarily a “Locally” owned restaurant. Chains are run by companies that are out of town and often even out of the country. Only pennies from your meal stay in the local economy in the form of wages, the rest goes to the head offices.
The particular restaurant I was in, is not only locally owned, but they look for local suppliers for the food they serve. This is different than most restaurants where food comes from wholesalers and mass distributors. Chains, and indeed many restaurants that are not chains, do not buy locally, this is an “inconvenience” for them. Many chains even run their own supply companies, meaning nothing is local, and produce may even come from over seas.
McDonalds was once well known for using “rain forest beef”. They were linked to deforestation of our rain forest for cattle production. Other companies still buy beef raised in such locations. Some buy from factory farms, and even when local, the farms are owned by corporations that can be overseas, again sending profits elsewhere. These restaurants may get their vegetables and fruits from far, far, away.
Dining in your Own Home
The best source for local produce is your own yard. If you can grow it yourself, then you should eat it. If you have excess, share with your neighbor and perhaps they will share what they have with you. This saves money and the environment. Some urban areas are allowing people to keep hens for the purpose of egg production.
Locally owned “You Pick” farms are great ways to get fresh produce.
Farmers markets are great places where a person can pick up a lot of locally raised, or grown, produce. You may find everything from meat, to fruits and vegetables.
When things are purchased in stores, they can come from anywhere, look for labels and be sure to shop at locally owned and independently run stores. Chains send profits out of your area and buy from sources that are not local. These stores might be locally run, but they are NOT locally owned.
photo by my husband
Benefits of Eating Locally
Not only is more money kept in your local economy, but as less shipping is involved in getting the food to you, it is considered a “greener” option.
Your food is likely fresher when it comes from a local source because the time it took to get to you was not increased by shipping.
You might get a nice turn around effect, in that when you shop locally, and get to know local people, they may return to support your business, or where you work.
The Eco Cafe - My Favorite Locally Owned Restaurant - Pigeon Lake, Alberta