As a dog, I don’t have a whole lot of food options–it’s dry, brown meat-flavored bits day in and day out (with the occasional apple slice or piece of dropped chicken thrown in there). But you humans, your choices are basically endless. Especially you humans living in Asheville. There are about 1,000 reasons to choose local food when you can (that’s 7,000 in dog reasons), but I’ve got some napping to do in this lovely autumn sunlight, so I’ll give just a few of them here.
The big reason is your carbon footprint (or pawprint, as it were). One study says that a whopping ONE-THIRD of our greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, including the production of food, manufacture of fertilizer, food storage and packaging. Most of that is from the actual production of food–12,000 megatons of CO2 equivalent a year. And the climate change caused by those greenhouse gas emissions will only make it more difficult for farmers to grow food.
Then there’s the distance that food has to travel to get to your fridge. The average distance traveled for food in the U.S. is estimated at 4,000-5,000 miles. That’s a lot of big vehicles using up a lot of gas. Growing food uses other resources, too, like land–half the land in the United States is used for agriculture–and water.
(Then there’s the fact that the average American chucks 20% of the food they buy into the garbage. And 40% of all the food grown in the United States ends up in the landfill. But I’ll get to that on a later date.)
So what’s a basset to do? A great thing to do for the health of the planet–and the health of your own body–is to buy local. It can be tricky in some places, but the local food movement is growing every day, and in Asheville buying local is a piece of (organic) cake.
Buying food from your local farmer means your food wasn’t grown on a big, wasteful
industrial farm, and it wasn’t trucked across the country on a big, gas-guzzling truck. And it means you are supporting your friendly neighborhood farmer. Many local farms are organic and use much healthier farming practices than giant industrial farms–healthier for you, and for the environment.
In Asheville especially there is great access to local farms and local food. Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) has a wealth of information on where to find your next delicious local meal. If you’re a social animal, tailgate markets are tons of fun–there’s not just local fruits, veggies, meat, eggs and other food, there’s fresh-baked pastries and handmade soap and crafts, live music, and new friends to meet! If you can’t make it to the market every week, join a CSA (community supported agriculture). You sign up for a CSA at the beginning of the growing season, and then receive a big box of fresh local veggies every week! A lot of them let you add eggs, cheese, flowers. Even meat. There are A LOT of CSAs around here to choose from–ASAP’s local food guide can help you narrow it down. This year, we went with Gaining Grounds Farm. It was great! In this week’s box we got sweet potatoes, kale, onions, green beans and some other delicious veggies (most of which my people won’t let me have…but I like the idea in principle). You never know what exciting veggies will be in your box every week, which means you get to try new foods and find new favorite recipes–many farms even provide their own recipe suggestions for you based on what you got in your box that week. Every week we’d pick up a new bag from Catawba Brewing, which is a very dog-friendly brewery, so I got to help pick up the veggies. I love field trips.
So, who’s your farmer?
Now that you have all this great local food to eat, don’t let it go to waste! That kale we got started to get a little limp after a few days in the fridge. Not delicious. Just throw it in a bowl of ice water and it’ll perk right back up! Delicious again!