“Locally produced” means products grown or produced close to the consumer. There is a short distance between the producer and the consumer, in contrast to products transported across the world, as in today’s globalised food system. Locally produced products are increasingly popular. They have a lower environmental impact and provide more transparency for the consumer. For example, to know how the food has been grown and treated.
However, being locally produced does not guarantee that the product is environmentally friendly. The food can still come from large-scale productions with little care for the environment. Yet, buying local products allows transparency around this that helps consumers make better choices.
Locally produced and the environment
It is increasingly popular to buy locally produced goods today. The popularity has grown with an expanding awareness of the emissions from transportation. The global food system is transporting produce from one corner of the world to another every day. The distance from the producer to the consumer is too long, which is unsustainable. The reason for this is partly the emissions from transportation, but the distance also affects the food quality. As mentioned, it is typical that locally produced foods are better for the environment than imported produce. Although, this is not a guarantee.
Growing- and production methods are sometimes more critical aspects than transport. They can often put more significant pressure on the earth than actual transportation. This fact means that products from an organic farm are likely better for the environment than local products from a conventional farm. However, this differs depending on which product it is. More so, the importance of transport is more significant if the product gets transported by aeroplane. Note that if the produce is fresh and fragile, there is a greater risk of aeroplane transportation. This kind of transport releases about 200 times more emissions than transportation with ships.
What is most sustainable?
The most sustainable groceries are local and organic, preferably from biodiverse and small-scale farms. More so, it is more sustainable to buy products by season. For example, one can eat local apples in the fall in countries far north. Buying products that follow the seasons also lowers the chance of aeroplane transportation.
Finally, it is good to know that some products get falsely advertised as locally produced. If you discover something like this, you can report it to your local municipality.