Produce doesn’t get any fresher or more delicious than out of your own garden. Some say ‘try to eat something you’ve grown yourself every day’. That includes herbs and spices grown on a window ledge or balcony. But for those of us who lack horticultural skills, farmers’ markets – if you can find one in your area – are increasingly popular and a great alternative. Your hard-earned cash goes straight to the farmer, you support local food production and you get to meet the person who’s feeding you, helping to create vital community links.
If you’re an adventurous cook, another option is to sign up for a box scheme – also known as community-supported agriculture – where a local farm or pool of farmers delivers a selection of in-season produce to your door by subscription. This helps guarantee a stable market for – and builds community investment in – local agriculture.
Of course, eating locally might get boring if you don’t live in a climate that allows for lush year-round produce, and many of us have come to depend on foods sourced from abroad. In those cases, look for sustainably produced and/or fair-trade products to help ensure these treats are having as positive an impact, both environmentally and socially, as possible.
It’s also important to keep in mind that local doesn’t always have a lower footprint, as the footprint depends as much on production as on transport. A local strawberry, for example, grown using lots of pesticides and fertilizers in heated greenhouses may have a heavier environmental footprint than an organic strawberry shipped in from a sunny country.