Where is Your Broccoli From?

With food icons like Jamie OlivImageer telling us to eat at home and eat healthier foods instead of fast food and pre-cooked meals, we are becoming constantly more aware of what we are putting into our bodies. However, we seem to have forgotten another important aspect of buying our food. Where is it coming from?

Much of the food we eat today has been imported. Not just from a city or province, but country.[1] Many people seem unaware of what this actually means. We like the idea of eating food from around the world and we also like when our food is inexpensive, so we see no reason not to buy that broccoli from California for $2.49.

It’s not as good as you think.

Often time’s food travels many miles before it reaches you[2] and this has many consequences. In order for food to reach you from afar and still be edible, it must be preserved. This can mean many chemicals that don’t belong in either your food or your body, have been used. Travelling food also means more packaging. It needs to be packed in such a way that there are substantial amounts making the trip in one go but also so that the food does not perish or become damaged along the way. Not to mention the gas required to make the trip. When your food is local less packaging and preservatives are needed for the food to reach your plate. This means your food is fresher as well.

Supporting our Farmers.

When you buy your food locally you are supporting the farmers in your area.[3] Our local farmers are in competition with the food that is being imported in from other places. Without our support our local farmers are unable to make a profit off their land. When this happens it often means they will be forced to sell their land and it will eventually be bought and developed. If we cannot give our local farmers the support they need, they may not be there one day.[4]

It’s not as Hard as you Think.

Eating locally is easy. More and more grocery stores are putting locally grown food on their shelves. Sobeys has recently teamed up with Jamie Oliver in a campaign to promote better eating and part of this campaign involves locally grown food.[5]

While grocery stores are beginning to see the importance of locally grown food, many people have had the opportunity to buy local food for a long time. Many towns have farmer’s markets where local farmers come out with the food that has just been pulled, picked, cooked, and travelled fewer miles to reach us. The food from local farmers has probably travelled less than the broccoli that isn’t really in season but you were considering this morning just because it was inexpensive.

The food you buy does not have to be expensive. After speaking to an employee at Kin’s market, I found that the broccoli that is $2.49 from California is .50₵ more than the broccoli from our own province of BC that is $1.99.

So what do you think?

Whether you have a farmers market or are just visiting your local grocery store I urge you to start reading the signs on the food you buy and think about where it came from. How far did it travel? If it’s far what does that mean? What could be in it? How is it packaged? Before you know it you will be buying your food locally on instinct. Your farmers and your environment thank you.

[1] (Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 2010)

[2] (Canadian Farms Produce Inc., 2013)

[3] (Canadian Farms Produce Inc., 2013)

[4] (Canadian Farms Produce Inc., 2013)

[5] (Sobeys Inc., 2013)


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