By Bob Difley
About 10 percent of all the energy consumed in the U.S. – about 100 billion gallons of oil each year – is used just growing the food we eat. Processing and transporting all those tomatoes, pork chops and strawberries to our table raises the figure to about 17 percent.
The Chicago Produce Terminal reports that food in America travels an average of about 1,500 miles before it lands on your plate. And that figure is rising as grapes arrive from Chile and apples from China.
The United Nations says that the average American is responsible for about 22 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year, compared to six tons per person throughout the rest of the world. You can trim some of this CO2 usage by eating as many fresh, whole, unprocessed foods as possible, and buying locally produced food from local area farmers and ranchers.
As RVers, we travel to many new and different locations, and the preparation and enjoyment of local foods can become a highlight of our travels. The best local foods in season will be found at farmer’s markets, farm stands and U-pick farms. You may find your meals getting more interesting as you try foods you’ve never tasted before. Check local chambers of commerce or tourism bureaus for a list of markets and farmers and ranchers that sell directly to the public, or Google “farmers market” along with the location.
However, buying fresh and local foods in the winter can be a challenge. If you are one of the holdouts that didn’t follow the snowbirds to the Southwestern deserts, the Rio Grande Valley, or Florida, you aren’t going to find much local fresh veggies or fruits. But if you have traveled to one of the warmer locations, put on your research hat and start checking with local producers to see if they sell any of their winter products off the farm or somewhere else locally. You might be pleasantly surprised, especially if the farmer allows you to pick your own veggies from his fields and only charges you a “bag” price.
If you can’t find local produce, ask the supermarket produce manager what fruits and vegetables come from local growers and buy those. You will marvel at the taste of right-off-the-farm fresh fruits and vegetables, and the bonus is that a local diet of fresh produce and meals made in your RV, eliminating a lot of processed foods containing fats, additives and sugar, will perk you up and do wonders for your waistline.
Buy local. Eat fresh. Not only will you be helping local food producers and sellers, but also your taste buds will thank you for it.
You can find Bob Difley’s RVing e-books on Amazon Kindle.