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When you look at a dinner plate full of food, do you ever notice the fossil fuels lurking between the carrots and potatoes? Might sound silly until you realize the fruits and vegetables you eat have traveled an average of 1,500 miles to get to you.
Check out the labels in your grocery storeís produce section: melons from Panama, grapes from Chile, cucumbers from Canada. Thatís a lot of fossil fuel burned to truck or fly that food around.
The processing and transportation of food accounts for 17% of the energy Americans consume. If that makes you want to reduce the fossil fuels on your plate, hereís a solution: buy food thatís grown locally.
The St. Louis area has a number of local farmersí markets, offering everything from berries, greens and potatoes to cheese, eggs and meats. Area grocery chains sometimes feature produce from local growers too; ask store managers if you want to see them stock more.
The less travel time between the farm and your kitchen, the more nutritious Ė and good-tasting Ė your food will be. Youíll also be supporting family farms and keeping your money in your region.
Of course, there are other ways to find locally grown food. More and more St. Louis area restaurants are using regional produce, meats, and cheeses. Next time you eat out, ask your chef if you donít see local purveyors listed on the menu.
Finally, how about planting a few vegetable crops or fruit trees in your own backyard? Canít get more local than that!
So do yourself and your planet a favor Ė buy local.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Liz Forrestal is Executive Director for Missouri Votes Conservation, a non-profit that advocates for pro-environmental legislation in Missouri. She also participates in a number of community environmental groups, and is a board member of Audubon Missouri.