This week, I’m making a donation to Food Works.
Food Works was formed to draw attention to local food, local farmers, and issues of social and environmental health. Their mission is â€œLocal, sustainable food systems development for Southern Illinois.â€
I’m a really big fan of local foods and local food systems. Here are just a few reasons why:
(1) Eating local food reduces your carbon footprint. In other words, if you live here in Carbondale, it causes less pollution to ship your food from Cobden to Carbondale (about 15 miles) than it does to ship it from California to Carbondale (about 2,000 miles) or South America to Carbondale (about 3,000 to 5,000 miles).
(2) Eating local food supports the local economy. You know how people are always complaining about how the U.S. is in a recession, and how Southern Illinois is even worse off than the national average? Well, if we buy local food, most if not all of that money goes to people who live and work in our area. They, in turn, will spend at least some of that money locally too. If you buy non-local food at a corporate chain, the opposite happens. Most of that money goes out of the region, and most of it will be spent out of the region — or hoarded by shareholders in the form of corporate profit.
(3) Local foods are fresher, tastier, and more nutritious. Our advances in refrigeration and preservation technology have made it so that we can ship food thousands of miles and store it for long periods of time without it spoiling. This is a good option to have in some cases. However, some foods — like greens, vegetables, and fruits — suffer a loss in quality from this treatment. Local foods are fresher because they’ve been harvested more recently — sometimes on the same day that you buy them!
(4) Local foods bring the power back to local people. Currently, almost all of the major decisions about our food supply are made by far-away corporate and government bureaucrats who know nothing of our local conditions, local needs, and local perspectives on food issues. They pass regulations which lower the standards of our food quality, and they cut corners for the sake of profit in ways that put our health at risk. Local food systems allow local people to reclaim power over the food decisions that affect their lives and the state of our region.
Food Works is doing some very important work to develop our local food systems in an ecologically and socially sustainable manner. They initiated a Community Food Assessment to discover what the state of our food system is here in Southern Illinois, and they’re working on developing a new and transitional farmer training program, as well as promoting the many good foods already available here in Southern Illinois.
If you’re fortunate enough to have money in your pocket after you’ve paid for food, shelter, utilities, and so on, consider making a donation to Food Works. They’ve got some good projects in the works, but those projects will only reach their full potential with the proper funding.
Thanks for listening, and thanks for any support you can send their way!