How Buying Locally Produced Food Reduces Waste
When you are able to purchase locally produced products and produce you achieve enormous energy savings by vastly reducing transportation energy demands. This transportation energy use constitutes a hidden carbon emission waste since it is largely unnecessary. Western foods tend to travel enormous distances before they arrive at the stores or supermarkets where we purchase them.
Although the actual farming methods used by agribusiness alone, make use of significant energy inputs from fossil fuel. On average for every calorie of food produced, agribusiness farms inputs a calorie of non-renewable energy inputs. This energy input is only one tenth or less of the energy that the ensuing transportation of the food consumes per calorie of food transported. In other words, for every calorie of food energy that the plant captures, agribusiness uses one calorie of non-renewable farm-input energy, and the food handling industry adds another 10 calories of transportation energy. This largely un-needed energy use constitutes a completely invisible source of waste which is, nevertheless, of a considerable magnitude. (visit www.holon.se for a discussion on the energy impact of transporting our food stuffs the way that we do.)
F.Gunther, in www.holon.se “The Energy Use of a Family”, suggests that by switching to locally grown food a family of four in Sweden would be able to conserve two times as much energy as they would have conserved if they had reduced their household energy use by half through massive insulation increases and other energy saving retrofits and if at the same time they exchanged their car for one that was twice as efficient as their current vehicle. The situation in United States is even more extreme.
This very significant and yet invisible waste is eliminated when you buy locally produced food..
How Buying Locally Grown Organic Produce Reduces Waste Even Further
When you buy organic food you are reducing or eliminating a whole range of invisible wastes. Current chemically based agriculture consumes one calorie of energy per calorie of food produced, on average. Organically grown foods require considerably less energy to grow, since this enormous energy use is largely accounted for by the energy required to produce the chemical fertilizers that agribusiness relies upon.
Chemically based agriculture seldom takes soil culture and replenishment into account. In chemically based agriculture, soil is regarded more or less as a medium in which the plants will root, to which fertilizers will be added, and on top of which herbicides will be applied. In these agricultural systems the preservation of soil structure, and the return to the soil of organic matter and micro nutrients, and the support of soil biota, are not considered.
As a result, the soils of the Western World suffer terrible degradation. This soil degradation constitutes an invisible waste that is on-going, insidious and largely masked by the use of more of the chemicals that are helping to create the situation in the first place. This soil damage has very serious long range implications. In effect we are mining the soil that we rely upon for our very existence as living beings.
Organic farming employs practices which replenish and revitalize the soil. Organic farming attempts to restore, rebuild and retain the soil which we rely upon. By purchasing organic food you are working to prevent soil degradation and loss, a waste which we as human being simply can not afford to maintain.
This post is part of the series: Reduce Waste, the first of the Three R’s of Recycling
When we made the three R’s of Recycling ( reduce, reuse, recycle) we put Reduce first. That is because there is much more to waste than meets the eye. Reducing waste does not begin or end at the land fill. The question is: where is all the waste, and what can we do to reduce it.