The Depth of Localness: Is 100 Miles a Distant Source?

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Paul Misciagno
Everybody is on the "buy local" bandwagon, which is a good thing. However, to be truly local, we need to look at the depth of the localness.

What is local?

Within how many miles is considered local? Is it 50 miles? Or is it 150 miles? I think that part is subjective based on what you are looking for and if it was prepared or grown to your specifications. The main thing is that we avoid anything that has 1,500 miles to get to us.

All of this just breaks the surface of localness, though.

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Farmer Jay
Pearl and chickens eating locally sourced food scraps.
Let's dissect a local restaurant experience.

First and foremost, you chose a locally run establishment and not Chili's or Applebee's. Second, take a look at all the ingredients in the dish you choose and consider where they came from and whether they are in season. Most restaurants that are preparing food from local ingredients label it as such on the menu or the servers inform you. Next, you need to look at the farm that grew the animals or vegetables. Is it organic, conventional, or some sort of natural or sustainable type? Then you need to look at where the farmer sourced the fertilizer. Was it made on the farm or brought in from a distance? Also things to consider are the farmer's methods. Just because it's local does not mean he is doing the right thing with the land. If the farm is local to us in Delray Beach but the farmer sourced the fertilizer in California, this makes the food not really local. The same goes for animals and feed. You may have a locally grown chicken, but where did the feed come from? It is hard to be totally local when you look this deep.

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