Did you realize that the average “fresh” food on your plate traveled 1,500 miles to reach you? Check out the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture’s calculator “Where Do Your Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Come From?” You can choose a product from a long list and see how far it likely traveled before reaching your store. For example, 5,417,700,000 pounds of apples were shipped into or across the United States in 2007; of those, the vast majority (over 74 percent) started out in Washington State. So it would be pretty safe to assume that most of those “fresh” apples you buy at the local store had a 3,000-mile journey before landing in West Roxbury!
However, with rail transportation diminishing in this country in recent decades, and trucking on the rise, this point might be debatable. “The Localvore’s Dilemma” (Boston Globe, July 22, 2007) and “Is Buying Local Always Best?” (Christian Science Monitor, July 24, 2006) provide more information about this controversy if you want to consider both sides of the argument for and against buying local.
Of course local supermarkets are increasingly indicating when products they sell have been locally grown. Roche Bros., for example, will mark a section of tomatoes “Grown in Vermont.” If you choose these products, you know you are supporting New England farms and producers and are also promoting energy saving because locally grown items generally don’t require as much gas-guzzling transportation to get here. Locally grown food usually tastes better, as well.
Here is a list of some of the available resources for finding locally grown and produced goods:
“Boston’s Last Working Farm,” as they bill themselves (although they are actually just over the line in Brookline), has a farmstand that is restocked daily by their morning harvesters.
This family-owned and operated farm in Needham offers a wide selection of fresh fruits and vegetables grown in their three Needham fields. In business since 1917, their maxim is “A Place for All Seasons.”
In their own words: “Our publication and website will be a resource for finding out what’s new, what’s available locally, and an introduction to the people instrumental in bringing about the change. Isn’t it time you knew about the farmer at your local farm stand?”
Tells you what farm products are in season in the Boston area and how to find local farms, as well as provides the schedule of Farmers’ Markets and other sources for fresh produce in and around Boston.
While all the food Boston Organics delivers to your door is not grown locally, they do purchase as much as possible from local farms, and as their mission states, they “strive to support local farms, local businesses, and fair-trade practices.” They also are committed to “sensible fuel use” in making their deliveries.
If you are interested in buying environmentally responsible household cleaning and personal care products that are all made locally in Massachusetts, then purchase products made by Global Balance. They are carried at the Village Marketplace in Roslindale; Harvest Co-op and City Feed and Supply in Jamaica Plain; A New Leaf in Needham Center; and Whole Foods stores. The organization is based in Newton.