It isn't always better for the environment to buy food locally. How it was farmed and how it was imported matter too. Most of the carbon footprint of groceries is from how they were grown and not how they were transported.
If it's in season where you live, then locally grown is best. If it's out of season, you need to consider a more nuanced point of view.
Lots of people reply-guying it up about soy. Yes, a lot of soy is used as animal feed. That doesn't change the fact that, as things stand, tofu can have a higher carbon footprint than some meat does. And buying it from the wrong suppliers can support the same people destroying the rainforest and farming cattle.
Come on people, think a little before you take umbrage.
@InvaderXan I'm of the thought that if you have to destroy the local environment to grow/farm X then that is the complete opposite of being sustainable. Likewise if you have to import a subsitute rather than use/eat what is produced next door to you.
The point is that food production out of season, while not any more damaging to the local environment, produces more emissions than importing.
Heating large greenhouses during winter typically uses a lot more energy than just shipping vegetables from someplace where they've been growing outdoors.
It may be produced next door. That doesn't mean it's sustainable.
@InvaderXan Oh I agree. Sorry I wasn't clear. Over here we generally do very well in terms of keeping things in season (Ireland).
The vast majority of meat production is grass fed, crops aren't irrigated and the animals are only in sheds for about 3 months in the winter (and then only heated by the animals themselves). Water is local wells, and not pumped from reservoirs.
@Rae Ahhh, I see! Yes, that's certainly a good way to do things.
Honestly, I prefer it when things are seasonal. It's makes some things feel more special when you can only get them during certain times of year, I think. A lot of foods in Japan are like this too, because very little is imported there.
@InvaderXan It took a while to make a conscious effort to be like this here.
We can grow strawberries at a commercial level in Waterford for a few months of the year and omg fresh strawberries are crazy good! The smell! The flavour! You get them from Spain (like normally) and they're way too flat because they've been in storage for a while.
@Rae Strawberries also like the rain. It's one of the reasons the UK and Ireland grow them so well!
@InvaderXan @Rae did you see the lowtechmagazine article about no-energy heated greenhouses? They use a heat-absorbing sun-facing wall (like thick brick) and covering the thin/transparent roof wall at night to absorb and retain solar heat. They're apparently pretty widely used in china and are good at extending the growing season without wasting a lot of energy.
@nerdsorrow @InvaderXan We're going to be installing a poly tunnel at some point, but it might turn into more of a hybrid green house. Glass is infinitely recyclable but plastic isn't. We were going to be looking at manure for heat (how they heated green houses about 200 years ago). But happy to see more places are looking at alternatives!
@Rae @nerdsorrow I've seen a way to construct solar greenhouse heaters using empty cans, black paint, and some old piping. Basically, you make a little solar panel, like those old style ones which heated people's water. Except instead of water, you're heating air and piping it into the greenhouse.
Needs sunlight, of course. I wonder how well it works...
@InvaderXan Interesting, I didn't realize how much soy in Europe comes from Brazil (ie, deforestation). It's very different in the US. This really underscores the importance of local and regional sustainability knowledge.
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