Have you ever considered where your food comes from?  Or how that food impacts the environment?

More than likely, you purchase your food from your local grocery store.  Or maybe your periodically visit your local farmer’s market or take part in a neighborhood food co-op to shop more locally.

But have you ever really considered where that food really comes from and how it gets here?

The global food supply is an extremely complex system.  According to the USDA, in 2013, approximately 19 percent of US food was imported from other countries.  A significant reason for this is due to climate restrictions and food seasonality.  Cost also plays a significant role – many countries are able to produce foods at a much lower cost.  And consumers have diverse tastes and enjoy tropical fruits and vegetables.

While importing food impacts the environment, it can also affect our health.  Because the global food supply is so extensive and involves so many different government agencies, tracing the origin of our foods can be difficult or virtually impossible.  In areas of the world with extensive air or soil pollution, the quality of the foods can suffer.  With more lax government regulations of chemicals or food production, issues with tainted meat or a high concentration of pesticides can occur.

This may sound very frightening but there are many ways that consumers can eat more locally and impact both the environment and their own health.  Let’s take a look at several ways to eat more local foods:

Know what foods are in season

Learn which foods are in season in your area.  Not only will this save you money because these foods are less expensive to produce, it also reduces the transportation costs and impact on the environment.  For an extensive list of seasonal fruits and vegetables, click here.

Shop local farmers markets

Farmers markets are a great way to support local growers.  Many farmers markets have restrictions on the foods available for sale.  My local farmers markets only allows farmers within a 100 mile radius.  This is a great way to ensure that your food is grown locally.  An additional benefit is having the option to ask questions about the farm and how the food is grown.  A word of caution though – some markets do not have geographic restrictions so the food could actually be purchased at the grocery store and resold.  While this is not exactly ethical, I’ve seen it happen.  Assuming you are purchasing locally grown organic produce may not be the case.  Asking questions about the origin of the food is a great way to learn more.

Join a community co-op

Depending on the community you live in, there may be several options available to you.  Community supported agriculture (CSA) connects families with local farms or groups of farms.  Basically, you are buying a share of the farm and receiving fresh fruits, vegetables and meats from the farm.  Some communities have smaller gardens where a group of neighbors plants the food and each member shares the responsibility in caring for the food.  At harvest time, everyone gets a share.  Another idea is to form a neighborhood co-op where each person takes responsibility for shopping for the group.  One of the newer ideas is to join a subscription service that delivers fresh, locally sourced food to your home.

Grow your own food

Growing your own food is the most ideal way to know exactly how your food is produced.  For many of us though, that has not been the most ideal option.  Some of us live in small areas and do not have the space to grow many different items.  And after doing a cost/benefit analysis though, growing your own food may not be cost or environmentally effective.

That is until now.

I recently learned about Organiponic.  You may not have heard about them yet.  But they are actively disrupting the organic food industry and making it possible for all of us to grown our own food.  Organiponic’s inventions are allowing consumers to grow organic green leafy vegetables and herbs at home.  By growing your own vegetables and herbs, you can ensure that they are pesticide free and have a positive impact on the environment.

Organiponic is a simple kitchen appliance.   It has been designed with few moving parts and works with both natural and artificial lights.  There are four space-efficient systems to choose from that produce anywhere from 12-24 plants.  They are easy to use and clean up too.  And with the low ongoing cost for seeds and nutrients, users can save approximately 75% on fresh quality produce that you’ve grown in your own home.  With the integrated software app, the environment is continuously monitored and can make suggestions to the consumers.  So if you’re like me and a bit green-thumb-challenged, this is an ideal way to grow you own healthy food.

Empowering consumers to grow their own fresh produce is part of the mission of Organiponic.  Not only is it important to educate our children and families about healthy diets, we also have a responsibility to educate and raise awareness of the environmental impact of our current methods of global food production.  Because these systems use 90% less water and no land, they are a sustainable food source.  Indoor growing results in less transportation costs and less greenhouse emissions.  The cost of electricity to power the unit is only $.25 per month.  Such a simple way to grow your own food and help the environment!

If you’ve ever considered growing your own food, watch this short video and check out Organiponic and learn more about how easy and cost effective it can be!

Do you purchase locally sourced foods?  Have you ever grown your own food?  I’d love to hear about your experience with it!

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