#9 Buy only food produced in the USA
Why this would save energy is obvious – reduces fuel used for shipping and minimizes the energy to keep food refrigerated or frozen because it is in transit for less time. If you get into the habit of checking the packaging or tag on all your food purchases, you will find that items come from all over the world. It is very hard to find shrimp or scallops that are not from China, even if they are wild-caught. Frozen there, the products have to stay frozen during storage and shipping. Much citrus comes from Central America, Mexico and even Africa. We have many states that produce citrus, but not all year long. The harvest is seasonal and that allows you to vary your intake by season, guaranteeing more variety and nutrients.
Another great advantage is that it supports American farmers and our food industry. Even though our “industrial” farms use methods that are not sustainable, they are under rules that protect the safety of our food. We have no such assurance when we buy food from distant countries. Nutrients of fresher food are also greater.
I was delighted to find some hydroponic (growing plants in liquid nutrients), usually in greenhouses and often with addition light and heat (granted these are energy users, but a well designed system can minimize the energy used for winter production). Where were they from? Vermont!! Fresh, beautiful, summer-like produce grown right here in the Northeast in November. Often lemons from Florida will be side-by-side with lemons from Honduras or Mexico. It is easy to check and pick up the Florida one.
If you are interested in energy conservation, for both the environment and your pocket-book, your food choices are on the top of the list of things you can control. Purchasing apples and pears at local orchards this time of year, especially by the peck or half bushel, will be a fraction of the cost of those in supermarkets. With a little planning, you can plan a travel route by local food sources that include other errands that you are one. Buying larger quantities also means you shop less often and that also saves gas and your time.
Somehow we have come to assume that we can have any fruit or vegetable at any time of the year. When produce is not in season, it is more expensive and less flavorful. Nature provides so much variety, that all the nutrients you need can be found “product of USA”. Our food dollar is a vote each time we buy food. If we avoid highly processed, well-traveled foods, we save money and energy at the same time.
Written by Nancy White. Nancy is a retired secondary teacher. She built and lives in an active and passive solar, high thermal mass home. She is an avid gardener and helps others to learn how to garden.