After tastes better, one of the best reasons to eat local is the impact on the environment. Chowhound Mchodera turned me on to this article in the SF Chronicle on the energy costs associated with eating.
On a scale from one to five -- with one being nonprocessed, locally grown products and five being processed, packaged imports -- we could quickly average the numbers in our shopping cart to get a sense of the ecological footprint of our diet.
The article brings up some of the obvious, the enormous fuel needed to ship products from the southern hemisphere to our markets, but it also mentions something less recognized. A lot of the energy benefits of organic farming are lost on those big corporganic farms when they have to ship in tons of manure for fertilizer.
My biggest sin: coffee. Sure, I can improve things slightly by using roasters based in Chicago like Intelligentsia or Metropolis or in Milwaukee like Annodyne or Alterra. Still, the beans are being shipped from somewhere. Luckily, I enjoy the Mexican fair trade organic coffee. Is that the best option?