How Far Does Your Food Travel to Reach You?

When we consider ways of contributing to the health of planet Earth, we usually consider things like recycling, reducing the amount we drive, eating more organic foods or using less plastic. While all of these ideas are certainly worthy of our effort, few people consider the massive footprint of eating meals that have travelled around the globe to reach us.

According to the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, the food in an average meal travels about 1500 miles to get to dinner plates. Of course, that amount varies heavily depending on what is in the meal: whether it contains seasonal food, locally-grown or industrially-produced foods, and whether it contains exotic superfoods or regional favorites.

Research conducted by Worldwatch Institute found that the average meal traveled between 1500 and 2500 miles from farm to table, as much as 25 percent farther than food only two decades ago. If we go back farther than that to the 1800s or even the 1900ss, we’d find that food traveled only short distances to reach dinner plates. At that time, there were no large grocery stores for people to purchase their food. Instead, most fruits and vegetables eaten were grown on peoples’ own farmsteads.

While a return to that lifestyle may hold little appeal for many people, the reality is that if every person grew even a small amount of his or her own food, we’d transform the health of the planet. Growing even modest amounts of our own food could green up the planet by reducing greenhouse emissions linked to extensive transportation and distribution systems.

Additionally, doing so would reduce our dependency on Big Agricultural companies that have proven time and time again that they don’t have our best interests at heart (consider the more than 11,000 lawsuits against corporate seed and pesticide giant, Monsanto, for allegedly causing cancer in countless people). In essence, growing our own food is the ultimate revolutionary act: it involves taking the control of our food supply out of the hands of corporate giants and putting it back into our own hands.

These are just some of the reasons why my husband, Curtis, and I launched FoodHouseProject.com, where we are converting our century old farmhouse into the ultimate food house: a home where we showcase the best in many forms of food growing to demonstrate how easy it is and how realistic it actually is for everyone to grow at least a portion of their own food. To that end, we’re diving head-first into old school gardening like container-growing and plots of land for growing fruits and vegetables as well as cutting-edge vertical growing, indoor microgreen growing, and much more.

We’re combining Curtis’ extensive food security background with my nutrition knowledge and aversion to corporate agriculture giants, with our combined love of gardening and food, transforming our neglected old farmhouse into a modern-day show home of food-growing possibilities to inspire everyone to start growing their own food. And, for Earth Day, we’re issuing the FoodHouseProject.com Challenge to everyone to start growing one or more of their own foods. Take the plunge even if you have never grown food before. It’s easier, and far more rewarding, than you think.

Even if you’d rather not get your hands dirty, you can choose to grow beansprouts which involve no dirt at all and only a tiny spot on your kitchen counter or a small patch of microgreens grown in hemp or coconut fiber. Or, if technology is more your speed, then consider an indoor vertical garden which takes almost no effort, only a few square feet of indoor floor space and quickly becomes a lush, beautiful and inspirational market stand of sorts for picking your own food in only a matter of weeks.

And, if you’ve never tried container gardening, you’d be shocked at how much food you can grow even on an urban balcony. Or perhaps, you can start a community garden in your area and get your neighbors out to contribute to greening up the neighborhood while also boosting the sense of community. If you’re fortunate enough to have even a small plot of land, then cover up that lawn until the grass has died back and begin to plant a fruit and vegetable garden.

Growing your own food is not just good for the earth, it’s better for your body, too. That’s because a huge amount of nutrients are lost in the first few days after picking fruits and vegetables. In one study published in The Journal of Food Science, researchers at Penn State found that much of the nutritional quality of spinach was gone by the time it reached dinner plates.

Typically, spinach is considered high in nutrients like folate which helps to prevent birth defects in the first months of pregnancy, and carotenoids that support healthy vision and help to protect the eyes from UV and free radical damage. In the study, researchers found that spinach lost 53 percent of its folate content after only 8 days of storage at 39 degrees Fahrenheit, or the typical temperature inside most refrigerators. As storage temperatures increased so did the amount of folate that was lost. And, the same is true for all foods: most of the nutrients are lost even before the food reaches your refrigerator, during transportation or while sitting on grocery store shelves.

This Earth Day, and everyday afterward, celebrate this great planet by recycling, reducing the amount you drive, eating more organic foods, using less plastic and growing some of your own food.

Related Stories:

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNMshares her food growing, cooking, and other food self-sufficiency adventures at FoodHouseProject.com. She is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News, founder of Scent-sational Wellness, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, & Cooking. Follow her work.

54 comments

Christine V
Christine Vyesterday

Too far I'm sure

SEND
Anna R
Anna R8 days ago

thanks very much

SEND
Barbara S
Barbara S16 days ago

tyfs

SEND
Thomas M
Thomas M20 days ago

thank you for sharing

SEND
Carla G
Carla G21 days ago

Thanks for sharing

SEND
Gino C
Gino C22 days ago

thank you for posting

SEND
Louise A
Lara A23 days ago

thank you

SEND
Jan S
Jan S24 days ago

tyfs

SEND
Ellie L
Emma L24 days ago

thanks for sharing

SEND
Kathy K
Kathy K26 days ago

Thanks.

SEND