This indirectly ties into climate change and related topics. Reducing one’s carbon footprint* isn’t just about downsizing to a smaller, more fuel efficient vehicle. Indirect consumption, such as dependence upon items that are shipped from out of the area, are also part, and often a very large part, of one’s carbon footprint. While I’m not in a position to alter some of my activities, I can do some things that both reduce my carbon footprint and encourage my neighbors to reduce theirs as well. One of those is to provide quality meats, eggs, and dairy products.
It has been suggested that the most effective way to decrease one’s carbon footprint is to either decrease the amount of energy needed for production of something or to decrease the dependence on carbon emitting fuels.
Buying locally grown, or raised, products fits both those categories. Locally grown and raised foods do not require transportation by refrigerated trucks or railroad cars. Small farms, unlike most commercial enterprises, tend to rely more on sweat than fuel on a day to day basis. In addition, well-run small farms tend to be more environmentally friendly as the farmers are very concerned about maintaining the health of both land and animals. Large scale producers, whether growing vegetables, fruits or animals, are focused on the bottom line. In most cases this means using genetically modified (GM) seeds and chemicals to grow produce and maintaining animals in feed lot environments, feeding a non-natural diet of grains and using hormones to promote fast growth. Stressing animals in this fashion also means antibiotics are necessary to keep the animals from succumbing to disease.
Raising animals on a natural diet, without using hormones and antibiotics, and using heirloom seeds while minimizing or eliminating artificial fertilizers to grow produce, translates into better health for those who eat local products and a better environment surrounding them. Let’s be honest though, it costs more to buy fresh foods grown without hormones, antibiotics or chemical additives. The small farmer cannot compete with a commercial business on a price basis. However, buying locally grown and raised produce, meat and dairy provides the consumer with fresher, healthier and tastier food, less likely to be contaminated; it reduces the consumer’s carbon footprint; and promotes a better environment to raise a family.
*The amount of carbon dioxide emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels by a particular person, group, etc.