The local food system in Wichita is becoming more vibrant and is a community treasure. But why does local food matter? Wendell Berry says, “Eaters must understand that eating takes place inescapably in the world, that it is inescapably an agricultural act, and that how we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used.”
Eating locally produced food is one significant way to impact how the world is used. When we support the local food system by eating local, there are many benefits. First, locally grown produce tastes better and is better for you. A vegetable that was harvested within the previous 1 or 2 days retains its flavor and nutrients much more than something that had to be picked before it was even ripe, then shipped over 1,000 miles and stored in a warehouse before being delivered to a grocery store.
Fewer food miles are also better for the environment. When food travels long distances by trains, planes, and automobiles, there is a significant carbon footprint attached. Processing and packaging also contribute to that carbon footprint.
A vibrant local food system promotes genetic diversity of both plants and livestock. While industrial agriculture utilizes monocrops - large areas of one particular crop, small local farms often grow several different types of tomatoes or kale, or even okra. Local farmers take pride in offering a variety of flavors and colors.
Finally, by eating local we spend our food dollars in our own community. This is an investment in the Wichita economy and in food security for the future.
Guest SciFiles commentator Catherine Johnson is with FarmShop.