By Jess Bitting,
Food Hub Coordinator
Earth’s climate is changing and the signs are all around us. According to the Department of Ecology, temperatures in our region this past summer were 20 degrees F above normal with record low precipitation.
One of the main contributors to greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), culprits in warming the climate, is the industrial food system. The EPA states that “between 44-57% of all GHG come from the global food system, and much of the food system’s GHG emissions can be eliminated if food production is reoriented towards local markets and fresh foods.”
It’s no secret that supporting a local food system can help fight climate change. Here are seven ways that Seattle Tilth Produce is tackling climate change — and ways that you can, too!
1. Reducing Food Miles
Transporting food contributes 30% of the emissions that cause climate change.
Did you know that the average conventional food product travels about 1,500 miles from farm to supermarket? On the contrary, Seattle Tilth Produce comes from farms as close to you as possible! By choosing to eat locally grown foods, you can drastically cut down on your “food miles.”
2. Limiting Food Waste
Food waste in landfills converts to a planet-warming methane gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Did you know that 40% of food in the U.S. is thrown in the trash? Food grown locally is fresher and less likely to be wasted. Limit your food waste! Enjoy leftovers, freeze extras, can or pickle food for longer-term storage, and share with friends. Composting food waste is a great alternative to sending it to the landfill. Put food scraps in the city’s yard waste/compost bin so it can be turned into soil.
3. Improving Health
Air pollution, extreme heat and rising winter temperatures caused by climate change can lead to public health problems.
From asthma to heat stroke, as temperatures increase some people will be affected by an increase in climate-related illnesses. Growing and eating local and sustainable food helps mitigate the harmful health effects of climate change caused by industrial farming.
4. Being Water Smart
Big industrial farms use 70% of the earth’s fresh water for irrigation. Local, sustainable farms need less water and help keep our water supply clean.
Industrial farms rely on intensive irrigation, making them more vulnerable as climate change increases extreme droughts. Local and sustainable farms, like Seattle Tilth Produce’s farms and partner farms, grow regionally-appropriate crops that require less water and are therefore more resilient.
5. Avoiding Chemicals
Organically grown produce does not use any synthetic chemical inputs, so it is safer for the health of your family, the farmers and the earth.
Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides used by industrial farming operations poison the planet, produce a large portion of carbon emissions and are energy intensive to create. By avoiding these harmful chemicals, organic farms use less energy and also produce healthy soil that helps fight climate change by capturing excess carbon from the atmosphere.
6. Supporting a Resilient Ecosystem
Unlike industrial farms that grow only a few crops, organic farms grow diverse crops that work with nature to support other healthy plants and animals.
Growing only one crop in a large plot, or monocropping, weakens surrounding ecosystems and makes industrial farms more vulnerable to extreme weather (remember the Irish potato famine?). Organic systems celebrate diversity by growing a variety of crops. In addition to being good for the ecosystem, diversity helps protect crops from pests and offers resilience in the face of an unreliable climate.
7. Strengthening Local Economies
Buying produce from local farmers keeps money in your local economy and invests in a secure food supply for the future.
Local food hubs, such as Seattle Tilth Produce, and farmers markets, offer consumers the opportunity to put their dollars directly into farmers’ pockets. By purchasing from local, organic farmers, you’re keeping money in the local economy and investing in a secure food supply for our future.