Most people are familiar with the idea of ‘food miles’ adding to the carbon cost of a product. This approach does not sit well with the convenience of supermarket shopping where supposedly all the things you need are under one roof. Although supermarkets are responding to customer demand and increasing their ranges of organic and Fair Trade product, they still aim to source their foodstuffs from the cheapest suppliers which often means buying from abroad and all that entails.
There are several alternatives to supermarket shopping, not least growing your own or making, even exchanging, your own biscuits, cakes and so on. This is probably a healthier alternative anyway given the amount of hydrogenated oils sometimes found in these products in shops. Local farmers’ markets have an increasing range of desirable foods and these are worth tracking down and supporting.
Localisation and improvements in communication like the internet are promoting more and more ‘exchange systems’. LETS and local gift economies move us towards moneyless systems which include exchanging food gifts. These are well worth finding – even starting – in your locality since they contribute a lot towards local resilience. There are also national land-share schemes in which you can adopt a bit of someone else’s land to farm, there are seed-swaps, vegetable shares and all sorts of developments which help us source healthy food grown locally.
Some garden centres are developing local stores for local producers of food. If you do grow your own food, get in touch with other gardeners near you and see if you can exchange food with them to increase variety. These exchange schemes often work on an informal level, for example with people who share allotments near each other. If you are good at growing particular types of food, or if your soil type will only allow certain food types, look out for other growers and formalise a local scheme that fosters exchange.
Box schemes, where fresh and reasonably local food is delivered to your door are another way to cut food miles from food. These come in a variety of sizes for single people, couples or families, but again making food from scratch is something we have to make time for. This is one of the disadvantages of a green lifestyle in today’s busy world – it is definitely more time consuming. The positive side of this though revolves around quality of life. If you regard the buying and making of food as a chore then you are not likely to even enjoy the food you make. If, on the other hand you enjoy creating the energy that you need to live, the making and eating of food is a revelation and an inspiration.