Local Action

Local Economies

Around the world, there is a growing movement to pull back from the relentless march of corporate globalization by re-rooting economic and social activities at the community level. From the burgeoning popularity of farmers’ markets and food co-ops to the revitalization of community banking, people are organising themselves to reclaim the economy from large profit-driven corporations and instead build sustainable, local alternatives.
— Anna White, “Why Local Economies Matter


Know where your food has come from through knowing those who produced it for you, from farmer to forager, rancher or fisher or earthworms building a deeper, richer soil, to the heirloom vegetable, the nitrogen-fixing legume, the pollinator, the heritage breed of livestock, & the sourdough culture rising in your flour.

Know where your food has come from by the very way it tastes:  its freshness telling you how far it may have traveled, the hint of mint in the cheese suggesting what the goat has eaten, the terrior of the wine reminding you of the lime in the stone you stand upon, so that you can stand up for the land that has offered it to you. . . . .

When you know where your food comes from you can give something back to those lands & waters, that rural culture, that migrant harvester, curer, smoker, poacher, roaster or vintner.  You can give something back to that soil, something fecund & fleeting like compost or something lasting & legal like protection.

We as humans, have not been given roots as obvious as those of plants.  The surest way we have to lodge ourselves within this blessed earth is by knowing where our food comes from.

Excerpts from A Terroir-ist’s Manifesto for Eating in Place, by Gary Paul Nabhan.

THE “DIRTY DOZEN” OF FRUITS & VEGETABLES (those most likely to contain pesticide residue)

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Cherries
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Imported Grapes
  • Carrots
  • Pears

THE “CLEAN 15” FRUITS & VEGETABLES (least likely to contain pesticides)

  • Onion
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapple
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas
  • Kiwi
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplant
  • Papaya
  • Watermelon
  • Broccoli
  • Tomato
  • Sweet Potato

Why Eat Local?

Pig1. Taste the difference.

At a farmers’ market, most local produce has been picked inside of 24 hours. It comes to you ripe, fresh, and with its full flavor, unlike supermarket food that may have been picked weeks or months before. Close-to-home foods can also be bred for taste, rather than withstanding the abuse of shipping or industrial harvesting. Many of the foods we ate on the 100-Mile Diet were the best we’d ever had.

2. Know what you’re eating.

Buying food today is complicated. What pesticides were used? Is that corn genetically modified? Was that chicken free range or did it grow up in a box? People who eat locally find it easier to get answers. Many build relationships with farmers whom they trust. And when in doubt, they can drive out to the farms and see for themselves.

3. Meet your neighbors.

Local eating is social. Studies show that people shopping at farmers’ markets have 10 times more conversations than their counterparts at the supermarket. Join a community garden and you’ll actually meet the people you pass on the street.

4. Get in touch with the seasons.

When you eat locally, you eat what’s in season. You’ll remember that cherries are the taste of summer. Even in winter, comfort foods like squash soup and pancakes just make sense–a lot more sense than flavorless cherries from the other side of the world.

5. Discover new flavors.

Ever tried sunchokes? How about purslane, quail eggs, yerba mora, or tayberries? These are just a few of the new (to us) flavors we sampled over a year of local eating. Our local spot prawns, we learned, are tastier than popular tiger prawns. Even familiar foods were more interesting. Count the types of pear on offer at your supermarket. Maybe three? Small farms are keeping alive nearly 300 other varieties–while more than 2,000 more have been lost in our rush to sameness .

6. Explore your home.

Visiting local farms is a way to be a tourist on your own home turf, with plenty of stops for snacks.

7. Save the world.

A study in Iowa found that a regional diet consumed 17 times less oil and gas than a typical diet based on food shipped across the country. The ingredients for a typical British meal, sourced locally, traveled 66 times fewer “food miles.” Or we can just keep burning those fossil fuels and learn to live with global climate change, the fiercest hurricane seasons in history, wars over resources…

8. Support small farms.

We discovered that many people from all walks of life dream of working the land–maybe you do too. In areas with strong local markets, the family farm is reviving. That’s a whole lot better than the jobs at Wal-Mart and fast-food outlets that the globalized economy offers in North American towns.

9. Give back to the local economy.

A British study tracked how much of the money spent at a local food business stayed in the local economy, and how many times it was reinvested. The total value was almost twice the contribution of a dollar spent at a supermarket chain .

10. Be healthy.

Everyone wants to know whether the 100-Mile Diet worked as a weight-loss program. Well, yes, we lost a few pounds apiece. More importantly, though, we felt better than ever. We ate more vegetables and fewer processed products, sampled a wider variety of foods, and ate more fresh food at its nutritional peak. Eating from farmers’ markets and cooking from scratch, we never felt a need to count calories.

11. Create memories.

A friend of ours has a theory that a night spent making jam–or in his case, perogies–with friends will always be better a time than the latest Hollywood blockbuster. We’re convinced.

12. Have more fun while traveling.

Once you’re addicted to local eating, you’ll want to explore it wherever you go. On a trip to Mexico, earth-baked corn and hot-spiced sour oranges led us away from the resorts and into the small towns. Somewhere along the line, a mute magician gave us a free show over bowls of lime soup in a little cantina.

From The 100 Mile Diet www.100milediet.org


1.  Action:  Stop drinking sodas and other sweetened beverages.                                      Fact:  If you replace one 20 oz. soda a day with a no-calorie beverage (preferable water), you can lose 25 lbs. in a year.

2.  Action:  Eat at home instead of eating out.                                                       Fact: Children consume almost twice (1.8 times) as many calories when eating food made outside the home.

3.  Action:  Support the passage of state and local laws to require chain restaurants to post calorie information on menus and menu boards.                                                           Fact:  Half of the large chain restaurants do not provide any nutrition information to their customers.

4.  Action:  Tell schools to stop selling sodas, junk food, and sports drinks.                     Fact:  Over the last two decades, rates of obesity have tripled in children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 years.

5.  Action:  Meatless Mondays . . . Go without meat one day a week.                              Fact:  An estimated 70% of all antibiotics used in the United States are given to farm animals.

6.  Action:  Buy organic or sustainable food with little to no pesticide use.                      Fact:  According to the EPA, over 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the United States.

7.  Action:  Protect family farms, visit your local farmers’ market.                                       Fact:  Farmers’ markets enable farmers to keep 80 to 90 cents of each dollar spent by the consumer.

8.  Action:  Make a point to know where your food comes from – READ LABELS.           Fact:  The average meal travels 1,500 miles from the farm to your dinner plate.

9.  Action:  Tell Congress that food safety is important to you.                                          Fact:  Each year, contanimated food causes millions of illnesses and thousands of deaths in the United States.

10.  Action:  Demand job protections for farm workers and food processors, ensuring fair wages and other protections.                                                                                                  Fact:  Poverty among farm workers is more than double that of all wage and salary employees.