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Ten Reasons to Eat Local
As living plant organisms, fruits and vegetables continue metabolizing, respiring, ripening and aging, even after they are harvested. Although they sometimes contain bitter or hardened compounds that require removal through boiling, drying, fermentation or salting, most of the time, they are best eaten as close to harvest as possible for the best taste.
Food quality also depends on freshness, a word that summarizes microbiological growth, the presence of microbiological metabolites and chemical changes that determine how long a fruit or vegetable lasts between harvest and spoiling. Intelligent packaging, storage and transformation can lengthen the time that a food remains fresh, but eating it as close to harvest as possible wins over packaging.
Local harvesting ensures that vegetables and fruit can ripen on the plant, if that is desired. Changes in colour, texture, aroma and taste occur as a fruit or vegetable ripens, which takes place because the concentration of ethylene in the plant increases.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) studied 120,877 American women and men over 30 years to determine how food and lifestyle choices affect weight-gain over years. They divided their subjects into three different groups and found that people who ate high-quality foods maintained healthy weights more easily than those who ate low-quality foods. They define high-quality foods as unrefined, minimally processed foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and yogourt, all of which are more easily obtained locally. Those who ate low-quality foods, such as potato chips, potatoes, rice, soda and heavily-processed foods, like white bread and sausages, gained weight slowly over years until they reached obesity in middle and old-age.1
In a 2019 study, researchers from the University of Guelph audited the garbage of 85 families to discover that households waste 4.41kg of food every week. More than half of that, 2.98kg, was avoidable food waste (ie bread, cereal, and whole fruits and vegetables rather than skin, bones, seeds, etc.2 Eating local means less transport and direct purchasing from a producer, which means less waste, and sometimes no waste at all!
Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
In 2005, Marc Xuereb analyzed 58 commonly-purchased foods eaten by people living in Waterloo region, Ontario. He found that the food travelled 4,497 kilometers and accounted for 51,709 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year. He posited that if all the foods could be replaced with similar items grown in South-western Ontario, they could save 49,485 tonnes of green house gas emissions, which would be equivalent to taking 16,191 cars off the road.3
Keep farmers in business
Farmers grow $110 billion of products every years and they employ 2.3 million Canadians. Canada is the 5th largest agricultural exporter in the world and the largest exporter of canola, duram wheat, flaxseed, maple syrup, oats and pulses.4
Prepared and served by people you know
Anyone looking deeply at food issues in the past two decades couldn’t help but notice two very different approaches in the field. Large corporations, scientists and policy-makers frequently talk about food security, and the need to globally produce enough food at low prices. Farmers, Indigenous peoples and other agricultural practitioners focus on food sovereignty and the need for autonomous food producers and traditional knowledge as a common right.5 By growing your own food and purchasing it from individual producers, you can ensure that you directly support people in your community.
Encourage diverse food crops, which is better for the soil
Many controlled experiments and observational studies have shown that plant diversity increases carbon sequestration because the species’ needs complement one-another. In 2019, however, seven researchers from Lakehead (Canada) and Fujian (China) universities wondered whether plant diversity might also increase soil organic carbon too. They analyzed the results of 1001 studies from 121 publications to show that soil organic carbon does indeed average between 5 and 8% higher in species mixtures than they do in monocultures.6
Contribute to local economic resilience
Researchers from the universities of British Columbia, Michigan and Wageningen published a study showing the multiple benefits a procurement system that ensured that Brazilian school children ate food from local farms in 2019. They showed that the policy contributed to food system resilience by enhancing family farmers’ autonomy and supporting diversified farming practices.7
1Mozaffarian, D., et al., Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. N Engl J Med, 2011. 364(25): p. 2392-404.
2von Massow M, Parizeau K, Gallant M, Wickson M, Haines J, Ma DWL, Wallace A, Carroll N and Duncan AM (2019) Valuing the Multiple Impacts of Household Food Waste. Front. Nutr. 6:143. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2019.00143.
3Xuereb, Marc. Food Miles: Environmental Implications of Food Imports to Waterloo Region, Region of Waterloo Public Health, 2005
5Charles Z. Levkoe, Josh Brem-Wilson & Colin R. Anderson (2019) People, power, change: three pillars of a food sovereignty research praxis, The Journal of Peasant Studies, 46:7, 1389-1412, DOI: 10.1080/03066150.2018.1512488
6Chen, Xinli, Han Y. H. Chen, Chen Chen, Zilong Ma, Eric B. Searle, Zaipeng Yu and Zhiqun Huang; Effects of plant diversity on soil carbon in diverse ecosystems: a global meta‐analysis; October 18, 2019; Biological Reviews, Cambridge Philosophical Society, Volume95, Issue1, February 2020, p167-183; https://doi.org/10.1111/brv.12554.
7Valencia, Vivian; Hannah Wittman and Jennifer Blesh, “Structuring Markets for Resilient Farming Systems,” Agronomy for Sustainable Development (2019) 39: 25 https://doi.org/10.1007/s13593-019-0572-4.
Why a Digital Application?
As a Verdun-based non-profit solidarity cooperative, we’ve been running local farmers’ markets for four years now. In that time, we’ve noticed that people enjoy finding places to buy fresh healthy food close to home. They also appreciate help in identifying unusual greens or items they didn’t realize could be grown in Montreal. And they love getting recipes so they can use the products they buy.
We want to help them even more, so we plan to create a digital application for customer smartphones and computers. We call it Eat MTL.
A crowdfunding campaign for a digital application
Eat MTL will enable consumers to find healthy food close to home. By using the app, they can also find unusual and rare fruits and vegetables, access multiple recipes, and cook seasonal meals.
We propose a partnership with you. Your contribution will pay our programming and marketing costs.
Our aim is to raise $8000.
We are offering three possible support levels: 10 $ and more, 25$ and more and 300 $ and more. All contributors will receive public thanks, with a link and photo if they wish, on this page.
Thank you for helping making the Eat MTL app a reality!