Will all of the news and constant doom and gloom around the environment, it is very easy to feel like there is nothing we can do to help. However, we get to choose three times a day what food systems we want to support and there are options for a diet that has a lower environmental impact. Here’s some reasons why we should all try to support our local farmers when we can and shop in season!
When we are looking at carbon emissions, transport typically only accounts for about 10% of emissions for a food product, which people tend to use an argument as to why supporting local doesn’t actually matter. However, when you buy local, your food still has about 10% less emissions than imported food (which is still a significant amount). In Niagara we are extremely blessed with some of the best agricultural conditions in Canada, and there is a whole list of reasons as to why supporting our local farmers is beneficial:
- You support the local economy and farmers within your own community
- Local agriculture is a significant tourist attraction in Niagara
- Farmers’ markets bring in about $3.09 billion in revenue each year in Canada (Hagar, 2012)
- Farmers’ markets and their connection to food producers help build a sense of community
- When people feel negative emotions towards their food, they waste more. Therefore, building local connections and establishing positive relationships between farmers and consumers can help limit waste (Russell et al., 2017)
We really cannot stress how truly unique and valuable agriculture in Niagara is and as the climate changes, farmers will be the first to feel the impacts. Having a connection to these local food systems and the people that supply the food is vital. People who feel a sense of place and connection to their region are more likely to be motivated to act sustainably and preserve the natural environment (Rogers & Bragg, 2012). Fostering this connection through support and engagement with local farmers can be essential in fighting climate change in Niagara.
Eating food that is in season goes hand in hand with eating locally. When you eat food that is not in season in your region, you rely on imported foods. In Niagara that means that in the summer we are surrounded by an abundance of fresh and local produce followed by nothing in the winter. So, what can you do to help limit the amount of out of season produce you are buying? Well for one, you can stock up in the summer and freeze leftover produce for the winter. Frozen fruit and vegetables are great for defrosting and eating as well as making smoothies.
Niagara is known as the fruit belt of Canada; we are extremely lucky to be surrounded by plentiful harvests and growing conditions unlike anywhere else in the country. Farmers rely on the climate and their communities to make an income. Supporting farmers directly is one way that we can all help them build resilience towards climate change and prop up our local communities.