So we’ve all heard the term “local” being tossed around recently. We’ve all been told that eating locally grown food is better for the environment. But what exactly does this term mean? How local is local?
In fact, there are no true regulations pertaining to what is allowed to be labeled local in terms of food. Many large grocery chains get away with labeling food from as far away as California and Southern Mexico local in Texan stores, places that the majority of Texans would not consider to be close neighbors. Most of us seem to think that by purchasing a product at the grocery store emblazoned with the “L” word, we are automatically doing good for Mother Earth. Sadly, this is too often not the case.
Thankfully, the city of Austin and community groups are doing a lot to bring local food back to its roots. Community gardens seem to be popping up everywhere in our city, providing residents with a place to interact with nature and others while creating a pleasant space for all who wish to visit. These plots are open for residents, young and old, who have an interest in growing their own food. The gardens encourage self sufficiency and reduce the need for transportation, the most climate burdening process involved in commercial farming.
Another excellent way Austin promotes truly local food is through the community farmers’ markets. If you live in or near the city you can’t call yourself a true Austinite until you venture out on a Saturday morning to experience the joy and excitement of The Austin Farmers’ Market. Each week brings fresh, new varieties of produce and goods produced by family-owned farms from within Central Texas.
Restaurants in the Austin area make it even easier to live a local lifestyle. Many eateries we know and love use locally grown produce in their menus. 24 Diner, Kerbey Lane Cafe, and Walton’s all rely on local farms to supply their customers with fresh, seasonal food.
Eating locally is essential to reducing our impact on our environment. Eliminating reliance on mass transportation and reducing/eliminating use of pesticides and other chemicals makes all the difference when it comes to sustainable living. The city of Austin offers many different ways in which one can become involved in their local food community. Hope to see you at a community garden or market soon!
Coalition of Austin Community Gardens– A full list of the community gardens around Austin and surrounding areas
Edible Austin – Publication that informs readers of local food advancements and opportunities in Austin and Central Texas
Real Time Farms– Online food guide to local farms and restaurants that serve local produce
Slow Food Austin– Providing activities and education for a more sustainable Austin food community
Sustainable Food Center Farmers Markets– Full information on the local farmers markets and the opportunities they hold
– Tansy Stobart, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Intern