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Saving global by growing local

Oil conservation is a big topic that seeps into even the smallest aspects of modern life. It’s Valentines Day: you order dessert to top off a special meal at your favorite restaurant, and then take a bite of the raspberry tart. Something tastes off — not the fruit itself, but the aftertaste, once you realize how it got to your plate. What’s oil got to do with it, you might wonder, and the answer is, everything.

Today’s global market brings the world to your table with fresh produce appearing year round in markets all over the United States. Your climate determines which fruits can be grown locally, or even in your hemisphere. The summer fruits, such as peaches, plums and berries that stock markets in the dead of winter needed oil to fuel the thousands of miles they traveled on trucks, trains and ships. Globalization resulted in the stiff competition that made imports affordable, despite the costs inherent in long-distance shipping, due to cheap labor, and sometimes-lax agricultural safeguards. Organic produce, championed as the answer to toxic pesticides still relies on burning greenhouse-emitting fossil fuels to reach their destination. For foods transported around the globe, organic and sustainable mean two different things. Fraud further erodes imported organics luster. Recently, the FDA uncovered a plan to fake the organic status of Chinese fruit and vegetable imports.

In industrial agriculture, everything from the oil-based plastics used in packaging, to the monoculture of crops is geared towards efficiency, maximizing profit and minimizing costs; but the cost to the environment is only recently being examined. According to the Unites States Department of Agriculture 15 percent of all food in the U.S. is imported, and the percentage of imported fruit is even higher. Worldwide, fewer and fewer agri-giants grow the food we eat.

Alarmed about the trend, conservation-minded leaders and residents have started thinking differently about how we relate to our food supplies. Locavore is a new term on the lips of urban and suburbanites, who limit what they eat to what is available locally, each season, and put up, or can and preserve excess yields for future use. The practice might seem novel to young adults, but is merely the way the U.S. operated before World War II, before the consolidation of agriculture and the expansion of road and air travel.  

In Southern California, the concept of local food is epitomized in the Altadena Urban Farmers Market. The market operates more like a food and goods exchange, in which neighbors bring produce grown, collected or prepared locally. Although located less than 20 miles away from downtown Los Angeles, and less than five miles away from Pasadena, neighbors learn how to make cheese from goats raised on large lots and bring eggs collected fresh that morning to market.

http://www.facebook.com/AltadenaUrbanFarmersMarket


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