This Thanksgiving, we are asking you, New London County, to take the pledge to include at least one locally produced* food item in your dinner.
Thanks to all of you who signed our Eat Local Thanksgiving Pledge. You helped support local agriculture in Conencticut, and we urge you to continue eating local all year. Check out the eat local resource page for a list of local farmers markets, farms, and food in season. These lists are still relavent all winter long.
Why is eating local important?
How far will you travel this Thanksgiving? To a relative’s house 25 miles away? 100 miles away? Or maybe you will have Thanksgiving at your house this year. Whatever the distance may be, a better question to ask might be, how far will your food travel this Thanksgiving?
The average American meal travels 1,500 miles to get to your plate these days. Are you willing to travel that far for one dinner?
The benefits of eating locally produced foods and supporting a local food system are numerous, and now more than ever are their virtues being praised and supported. Locally produced food tastes fresher, is better for the environment, preserves biodiversity, keeps money in the local economy, and so much more. You as the consumer play a powerful role in the decisions that support local food systems.
Transporting and growing food in an industrial food system relies heavily on fossil fuels. For every 10 calories of fossil fuels used to produce food, only one is created. This is an extremely unproductive ratio. According to The World Watch Institute, more than 30% of all fossil fuel use in the U.S. is linked to agriculture and land use, which rivals the combined emissions of transportation and industry. Local agricultural systems travel vastly shorter distances to reach your plate, and because it often relies less on pesticides, fertilizers, and heavy machinery, it produces much less carbon emissions.
Take a look around your local grocery store. Chances are, the diversity of fruits and vegetables there is low, with only the most popular and recognizable varieties available. Now compare that to your local farmers market, where you are likely to see a veritable cornucopia of produce, some you may never have seen before. One consequence of our current industrial food system is the loss of diversity. Local food systems maintain this natural diversity, which creates a healthier and more adaptable environment and source of food.
Connecticut has more than 4,000 farms, with over half of them at less than 50 acres in size. That means that chances are, wherever you are in Connecticut, you are likely not far from a farm. Agriculture is an important source of revenue for the states, with greenhouse, nursery, and dairy contributing the most. In 2010, the agricultural industry contributed $3.5 Billion and over 20,000 jobs to Connecticut.
Local food systems keep money where it should be, locally. Research shows that buying from local businesses keeps two to three times more money in the local economy than buying from national chains. By purchasing Connecticut grown produce, dairy, shellfish, meat, and more, you are supporting your local economy, and by extension, yourself.
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reflect on our food choices and current agricultural plight. As you sit down for Thanksgiving dinner this year, think a little bit more about where that food came from, and how far you are really willing to travel for a single meal.
To find out more about where, how, and what you can eat local in New London County, check out our resources page.