The term “food miles” has been used for over a decade to describe the distance between the food you eat and where it originated. When you decrease food miles and eat healthy, it results in something critical: sustainability.
According to a Carnegie Mellon study, the average distance traveled for food in the U.S. is 4,000 to 5,000 miles. All of this traveling results in the constant release of greenhouse gases.
The food we choose to eat can impact the planet. When produce is shipped, flown or trucked long distances, it must be harvested before it’s ripe, plus it has to survive the journey. As a result, the produce often becomes less nutritious, less tasty, uses a lot of fuel and, in the end, causes pollution.
Supporting local businesses and keeping local farmers viable is extremely important to the future of our food system, and it can have a great impact on reducing your carbon footprint.
Not sure where to start? Here are some tips.
Consider the top benefits of buying locally grown food and decrease the mileage.
What is locally grown food exactly? This broad term describes food grown within a geographic region that can be considered local to your particular area. A local area can stretch to 250 miles and still benefit your entire region.
How do I get started?
Do some research on the sources in your region. Websites like LocalHarvest and Mother Earth News, provide nationwide listings of participating farms. When you find a farm, go to it. Meet some of the farmers and vendors in your area. Get their information then check them out online. Finally, recommend them to your team and help save the planet!
Garner strong ties to your local providers.
It is important that your culinary team have strong relationships and continue to foster positive collaboration with your local farmers and food vendors. Frequently, community farms have a list of current crops that are fresh and ready to be delivered. This includes fruit, vegetables, dairy products and locally raised meats.
Celebrate the changing seasons.
The virtues of eating seasonally are many, but the truth is that there’s nothing better than a dish that incorporates ingredients that just came off the vine. Fresh salad bars, soups, seasonal berries, apples as a main ingredient in a dessert, fresh greens, herbs … the list goes on and on.
A seasonal rotating station or chef’s table further highlights strong ties to community sources. It will also change up your cafe selections to keep people coming back to see what’s new.
Don’t forget to spread the word.
Consumers increasingly want to know where their food is coming from. As you begin to incorporate more local items into your cafe, be sure to highlight those items with signage at the food station or consider a large menu board in a conspicuous location that features all local items in the cafe. Doing so will help your employees recognize the impact they personally can have on the local community – and the planet.
The benefits of buying local produce are many, including community economic opportunities, health benefits of farm-to-fork and, of course, the environmental considerations. All of these things will have a positive impact on your employees and make them proud supporters of the cafe each and every day.
For more information about how we help companies decrease their carbon footprint, contact us here.