Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Friday, January 23, 2009

From Farm to Fork -- Local Food Guide Published Online and in Print

Promoting the locavore concept of eating food grown locally, this statewide project in online and print format has gotten some help from the Environmental Defense Center.

The guide is available online at Printed copies are available at certified farmers markets around the region and at select restaurants, retailers, and farm stands including: Environmental Defense Center, Fund for Santa Barbara, Isla Vista Food Co-op, The Orfalea Foundation, Fairview Gardens, Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau, and Sojourner Restaurant.

The online guide itself is a good start but some of the search tools could use a bit of work. I typed in a local zip code and got different info than when I did the search by area. Both search results gave me minimal information on where local farms were and where I could buy local food. Still, it's a great idea and I wish them well.

Are you ready for a 100-mile diet though? Many economists point out that transport is only part of the total impact of food production and consumption. In the Wikipedia article listed above, it fairly points out:
...any environmental assessment of food that consumers buy needs to take into account how the food has been produced and what energy is used in its production. For example, it is likely to be more environmentally friendly for tomatoes to be grown in Spain and transported to the UK than for the same tomatoes to be grown in greenhouses in the UK requiring electricity to light and heat them.

Another part says:
According to a study by engineers Christopher Weber and H. Scott Matthews of Carnegie Mellon University, of all the greenhouse gases emitted by the food industry, only 4% comes from transporting the food from producers to retailers. The study also concluded that adopting a vegetarian diet, even if the vegetarian food is transported over very long distances, does far more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, than does eating a locally grown diet.

Is this kind of like buying a Prius with a $5,000 battery? Not really as it depends on who you buy your food from. Overall, it is a good idea to buy locally from responsible growers but I can't imagine keeping it local for every meal. The again, maybe it's time to go vegan.

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Anonymous SBCitizen said...

Other issues to consider:

* keeping money circulating locally, so it keeps getting reinvested into the community.

* terrior, if you believe it. It was my understanding that a primary push for eating with 100 miles was to be in closer touch with the same external influences between ourselves and our food. It's more looking at the perspective of effectiveness in the diet, rather than efficiency in trasporation.

1/23/2009 10:00 AM  
Blogger Cookie Jill said...

We all try to do our's actually easier than you think here in SB. We are blessed with some terrific farmers. We just need to make sure that their land isn't paved over to make room for more multimillion dollar McMansions.

1/23/2009 10:03 AM  

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