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Organic Consumers Association

Eating Local Means Figuring out Your 'Food Miles'

Your green car may get 40 miles per gallon, but how many miles per bite was your lunch?

"Food miles" - how far food travels from the producer to your home - have become the latest preoccupation for folks concerned about their ecological footprint. Transportation of food requires copious amounts of fossil fuels and other resources that contribute to global warming and pollution, so the lower the food mileage we rack up, the better.

Eating local also supports our regional economy and promotes awareness of food and its environmental impacts. Since locally grown food may be picked within a day or so of when we eat it, it will often be fresher and more nutritious.

And when the people who produce our food are closer and more accountable, it helps protect us from contamination problems that have become commonplace in the industrialized food system.

Not all locally grown food is organic , which for some can lead to food-choice dilemmas. And even when you look primarily at food miles, it's a complex matter not easy to calculate.

This guide will help you sort out the different options and trade-offs as you try to buy food produced closer to home.

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