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How grocery shopping can save the planet

Marc Lefkowitz  |  04/14/08 @ 2:16pm

Can shopping for food grown in Northeast Ohio help save the planet? Our national food system depends heavily on fossil fuels-it takes ten calories of fuel to produce one calorie of food. Two of the most important acts to reduce your carbon footprint relate to food:

  • Support a local farmer's market. Plenty of food is already in season at Coit Road or the six North Union markets, which moved outdoors over the weekend.
  • Eat low on the food chain: Try eating more veggies than meat. Livestock production is responsible for more climate change gasses than all the motor vehicles in the world, according to this UN report. When you do eat meat, opt for grass-fed animals -they are healthier for you and the environment.

"The Real Low Calorie Diet", a documentary screened during last week's National Public Health Week, described how we can rethink food in a post-carbon economy. It features urban gardening initiatives in Cleveland such as City Fresh, which is helping inner-city residents alter vacant lots into garden plots. In suburban and urban neighborhoods, "edible lawns" are producing veggies and herbs for the dinner table and to sell to local residents and restaurants.

The film also shows how a diversity of food crops can be beneficial for the environment. Diverse farms can support more plant and animal life, and use less chemical fertilizers. Some farmers in the film even restore wetlands next to their crop fields. Wetlands sequester carbon and create natural filters for the fertilizers that run-off from crop fields.

Cleveland Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition meets this week to continue the work of strengthening the local food system. Share your thoughts with the steering committee by posting a comment.

GCBL's local foods and markets page has resources, such as the Cuyahoga Countryside Conservancy's Guide to local and seasonal eating in Northeast Ohio to get you started.

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