How Do I Eat Green?
If you change only one thing about the way you shop, experts agree, hands-down, you should go to the farmers' market when you can. You'll be decreasing the distance, an average 1,500 miles, that your food will have traveled to reach your plate, so fewer greenhouse gases will have been released into the air in order to feed you. Less known is the cascade of other great benefits: Vegetables and fruits grown nearby are not picked as early as produce that comes from farther away, so they "have longer to ripen, less need to be sprayed later with artificial growth enhancers or coloring, less time to deteriorate nutritionally -- and are picked at the peak of their taste quality," explains Pollan. "Just think about how you can barely get summer tomatoes or peaches home without bruising them. So imagine them on a truck from South America. It's not natural that they're in such perfect condition at your grocery store."
What's more, by supporting your local farmer, you're keeping him or her in business, which is to say, you are helping farmland stay in the hands of people who are likely to use earth-friendly, sustainable methods, says Pollan. (Nearly 300,000 midsize farms disappeared between 1982 and 1997, about 25 percent of such farms in the country.) Also, land that is farmland is not urban sprawl. As Pollan points out, this means shorter commutes, less traffic, and fewer fuel-burning emissions. In turn you have cleaner air, the preservation of natural habitats, more birds and wildlife -- a healthier ecosystem.
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