The condition of the environment around the world, and even closer to home, in the United States of America, is a concern for many people. There is an abundance of information to be found on most subtopics concerning the environment and “most communities care deeply about the sustainable management of their own environment [and] by acting together, people can be a strong and effective force, regardless of whether their community is wealthy or poor” (Raven 578).
As we work our fingers into the soil and pull weeds, there is talk that in the next town another garden is underway and is already in its developing stages. Small town America is waking up to the idea to ask the most important question, where does our food come from? The survival of the world impacts the continued existence of its people. American society must redirect its priorities towards sustaining the environment—it is vital to our wellbeing. Given the proper tools, you can make your own decisions and the best choices in your purchases. Your decisions of food selection are not only vital to your health but can help sustain the environment. Growing fresh and buying local foods are at the center stage of today’s American society. People are now thinking about their own towns and communities. If all residents in local communities would buy produce that is locally grown instead of buying produce shipped from other states it would not only benefit local farmers, but it would improve the local economy. Until now most government grants have supported protection of local farmers without thought of the surrounding area.
The primary thought about buying locally has to begin before it arrives at the dinner table. Our whole thought process must change. Careful consideration must be made surrounding our food consumption. No longer should anyone just buy lettuce, people need to ask, “Where the lettuce came from? What was the process used to grow this head of lettuce? How far has this lettuce traveled?” Consider what preserving chemicals were used so that this lettuce would appear fresh at the grocery store where it was purchased. Now think about the fuel it cost to deliver this product and the emissions that were released to the air quality. Perhaps this dinner plate is in a restaurant. If given a choice, a local restaurant owner should want to provide food for his customers that was prepared with locally grown fresh products rather than purchasing from a national distributor. There are nonprofit groups developing, educating, and introducing restaurant owners to their local farms so they are able to make the healthier choice for their customers.
Buying local is not as easy as it seems. Checking labels and understanding what you are reading is very time consuming and can sometimes be frustrating. Most milk delivered to grocery stores are from cows that were fed synthetic growth hormones to increase milk production which increases profit. This is unhealthy for cows and has also been linked to cancer, and the highly debated topic–early puberty in girls. Look at the next gallon of milk you buy, it should at the least say, “these cows have not been treated with the growth hormone rBST.” Reading labels can tell us what ingredients are in the product and it can also tell us who the distributor of the product is. The distributor can be a large corporation or a small family owned company. Many negative issues being raised with food production are questioning our centralized food system. Reading labels and asking questions are the first steps towards becoming aware of where our food comes from before we can change and possibly decentralize the food system.