We are lucky to live in a city full of community food intiiatives whilst being surrounded by countryside that is home to many farms. It is therefore relatively easy to access locally produced food products. To support you in doing this an online local food directory has been created (www.lessuk.org/directory) where you can search for locally produced food in addition to searching for organic, vegan, free range and fairly traded local food options.
The quarterly seasonal markets run by LESS as part of the wider FoodFutures work (Lancaster’s Sustainable Food City initiative), also create opportunities to meet growers directly and learn how to buy their produce when they are not at the seasonal markets. The council’s weekly charter markets also feature some local food businesses and Single Step offers a good range of local veggies and other food items.
Knowing where to buy local produce is one thing, but why might you want to opt for this option in the first place?
The news is awash with stories about the ‘climate and ecological emergency’ and often I hear people questioning ‘what can I do’? Three ways we as individuals can support a transition to zero carbon lifestyles is to eliminate all food waste (and compost); eat more plant based diets, and support local organic+ farms and the businesses that source from these farms.
By choosing to buy seasonal, local products you also access fresher (and often tastier) produce whilst reducing your food miles and re-connecting yourself to the seasons. It is also much easier to question how your food was produced when you are buying from a local business with direct trading relationships with its suppliers (compared to a multinational company).
Sourcing local food can cut down on transportation costs; reducing our level of impact on the environment. In this country carbon emissions produced due to the transportation of food has increased steadily for 25 years according to the Office of National Statistics. One key contributor is increased imports of food. Emissions occur when products are transported from the source, to the dock, and then shipped to a port on our coastline. When buying local we can reduce these emissions.
By buying local, we can also keep money flowing in the local area, with additional social and economic benefits being felt over time. Smaller businesses, generally run by local residents, are more likely to stay rooted in the community and provide local jobs. There is a ‘flight risk’ with chain stores, with them moving to where there is the most profit to be made.