Food for Thought, by: Sarence Simatupang

When we think about food in America, healthy is not usually the first word that comes to our minds. In a society that is fast paced, we need food that can keep up with our busy lifestyles. Since our lives are expeditious, we don’t have the patience to wait for our food. Not only do we need “fast” food, we need a system that gives us what we want when we want it. We can get any type of food we want all year round. Although this seems like an efficient way of life, it can yield harmful results. These foods have to be shipped and packaged and have to go through a long process just to arrive in your home. This life of luxury doesn’t seem so great when you realize its negative effects. To have a better system of food, we must give up some of our luxuries. Buying local food is a way to end this faulty system. Although buying local food can be more costly and doesn’t offer as much variety as imported food, it is a better choice for our bodies and our environment.

Most of us are selfish people and think only of ourselves. Many of us would not change our ways because it affects others or because it affects the environment. So if you won’t buy local foods for the environment, do if for yourself. Of course the obvious reason to buy local is for the health benefits. Imported food has to last a long time. From the time it is harvested to the time it’s on your plate it must survive. To be able to sustain the food, preservatives must be added. Preservatives such as benzoates can cause brain damage, nitrates and nitrites can cause cancer, and sulfites may cause headaches, allergies, joint pains, and cancer (Rippo). These are only a few of the preservatives used, many of which destroy nutrients of the product. With local foods, there is no need for preservatives because the food doesn’t have to travel far. It doesn’t need to last long because there isn’t much time between harvest and the market. When buying local, you won’t get the harmful effects caused by the preservatives because there are none present. Some may argue that the body is very resilient claiming that many can eat preservatives and not be harmed. Although this is partially true there is more to it. The body starts to lose it’s resilience as it gets older and as a result will be harmed by the preservatives (“Preservatives and Additives”). That is why eating local foods can improve your health and your lifestyle.

Some of us could care less about our health. What we really care about in our food is the taste. Well for those who can relate to this, local food can also be for you. Imported food that sits in trucks for thousands of miles and a few weeks can’t possibly still taste good. These foods can’t compete with the fresh taste of the real thing. Since local food doesn’t have to be shipped and last as long as imported food, farmers can wait longer to harvest. This results in a fresher taste with more flavor and all the nutrients. Local farmers can choose what they sell based on taste instead of durability. As a result, most of the food in the farmers markets is more tasty and fresh. So not only is local food good for our health, it is also good for our taste buds.

Imported foods might be cheaper than local foods but does it really cost less? In economics we learn that there is more to cost than just money. There are hidden costs that come with imported food. The enormous amounts of food that are transported require huge vehicles such as trains, ships, trucks, or any other gas guzzling vehicle to transport them. Each food item in an American meal has traveled an average of 1, 500 miles. Not only is fuel used in the transportation but also in the packaging and other steps of processing (Kingsolver 5). All this use of fuel causes emissions of carbon dioxide that contribute to climate change. Some may argue that buying imported foods provide income for farmers in developing countries. Unfortunately, most of the money that comes from buying imported foods goes to the big companies that small farmers work for. Developed countries produce vast amounts of crops that are sold to developing countries. These crops can be sold much cheaper than the domestic crops of these developing countries. As a result, locals will buy the cheap imported crops and local farmers won’t have enough money to survive. They then look for jobs for the big corporations who take their crop and sell it to us (Kingsolver 66). Global warming will affect the countries we import from the most. Countries in Africa and other areas like it will experience droughts and lose their ability to farm (“Food Miles”).  It might seem to us that imported foods cost less, but they are really compromising the future of this planet and that is not a price worth paying.

Fortunately, saving the world doesn’t have to be hard. Eating local food can be done and doesn’t have to be a struggle. All we have to do is change our mentality. We can’t see eating local food as us being deprived from the variety of imported food. This abundance of food wasn’t possible back in the day. People settled on what was available each season (Kingsolver 65). We need to take a step back in order to go forward. We need to be patient and only eat what’s available in season. We must realize that by buying imported foods, we are stealing from the future generations. Importing foods causes global warming which will lead to economic disasters and animal extinctions (Kingsolver 66). This would be a less than ideal world for the next generation to live in. They can’t do much about their future. We have to act today to provide a better world for tomorrow. All we have to do is take little steps. Eating just one meal a day of solely local foods can save a good amount of oil. Gradually we can make the change to eating entirely local foods. A simple change of lifestyle can make this world a better place for us and the future generations.

Works Cited

“Food Miles.” Docstoc Documents, Templates, Forms, Ebooks, Papers & Presentations. 2 Mar. 2010. Web. 29 Apr. 2010. <http://www.docstoc.com/docs/27203310/Food-miles/&gt;.

Kingsolver, Barbara. Animal Vegetable Miracle 1ST Edition. New York: HarperCollins, 2007. Print.

“Preservatives and Additives! Extended Shelf Life.” Free Healthy Recipes! Nutrition, Weight Loss Topics And Free Cook Books. Web. 29 Apr. 2010. <http://www.healthrecipes.com/preservatives_and_additives.htm&gt;.

Rippo, Maria. Common Food Preservatives: Learn about Harmful Effects of Food Preservatives. 20 Jul. 2009. Web. 29 Apr. 2010. <http://www.brighthub.com/health/alternative-medicine/articles/42704.aspx&gt;.

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