- The average item in the supermarket was transported 1500 miles.
- As much fossil fuel is consumed producing and transporting our food in the United States as driving our cars.
- Somewhere between two-thirds and four-fifths of all the food calories human beings on earth consume comes from four crops: corn, soybeans, wheat, and rice. These are for the most part farmed on an industrial scale, using pesticides and herbicides that are made from fossil fuel and whose runoff poisons water in many parts of our country and the world.
It's as if each time we wanted to eat in Nashua, New Hampshire, we had to call and order out from Sioux City, Iowa! When we talk about climate change and global warming, the way we eat is a key factor the same way our driving is.(The author Michael Pollan wittily suggests that "there is every reason to believe that corn has succeeded in domesticating us", not the other way around! Corn has gotten us to take responsibility for its expansion, by giving us all kinds of ways to use its chemical derivatives. Corn has gotten us to feed it to our grass-loving animals, and Pollan says that now that we eat as much corn as is humanly possible we've begun to feed it to our cars!)
In New Hampshire, August is Eat Local Month. Eating food that comes from the immediate area has all kinds of obvious benefits. It reduces pollution of all kinds. It slows the use of fossil fuels. It weaves the local community together. It steers us toward fresher, healthier, tastier food. Spiritually, it reminds us to be humble, to remember that God gave the first humans a patch of land "to work and to protect" (Genesis 2:15).
So let's find a way to the local farm or farmers' market this month. We can even each start by picking one product to substitute all month, to remove from the supermarket basket and buy instead locally. Then see what happens to our consciousness, and our habits. As Ben Azzai said (Pirket Avot 4:2), "One mitzvah drags along another mitzvah"!
If you read this during August and do go out and eat local, I invite you to let us know -- post a comment to the blog, say where you shopped and what you bought.