It seems like more and more we are hearing that we should “eat local,” but what exactly does it mean? To put it simply, eating local is eating food that was grown close to home. By eating foods that were grown or raised close to home, you are eliminating the carbon emissions that would have been otherwise required to transport that food from a far-away farm to your table.
Why should I care?
A study from the American Dietetic Association found that the average food item travels 1,500 miles before being consumed. That may seem far, but considering that much of the food you ate today was out of season or cannot typically be grown in your climate, 1,500 miles doesn’t seem like much of a stretch. Some of the food we eat must be imported from the other side of the U.S. or even from other countries because of this. According to the Natural Resource Defense Council, the average american prepared meal contains at least five ingredients from outside of the United States.
Most food transportation methods use fossil fuels. This means that food transportation creates a large amount of CO2, thus directly contributing to global climate change. Another Natural Resource Defense Council study found that the importation of fruits, nuts, and vegetables into California via airplane produced 70,000 pounds of CO2, equal to 12,000 cars on the road for one year. This study did not even take into account transportation by ships, trains, and trucks, which are some of the most common methods of food transportation in the state.
How can I do it?
It is becoming easier and easier to purchase local foods. An easy way to purchase local foods and support farmers directly is through farmers markets. There are seven seasonal and year-round neighborhood farmers markets in Seattle. Farmers markets can sometimes be expensive, but several vendors will have sales and some discount their prices later in the day near the end of market operating hours. It is also important to note that many Seattle farmers market vendors now accept SNAP/EBT cards.
Many grocery stores are also beginning to pick up on the trend of local eating. Many grocery stores now have signs in the produce section indicating if something was grown in Washington. This can be a great tool for trying to eat locally while shopping somewhere that is convenient for you.
Lastly, one of the easiest ways to reduce how far food travels is to try to buy produce when it is in season. Out of season produce is often shipped from far away or is frozen until it is ready to be sold, both of which can create large amounts of CO2. Knowing when produce is in season is a great way to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions it will take to get the food to your plate.
By: Madison Alberts, Member of the SYCAN Leadership Team and Volunteer at the Seattle Aquarium
Two months ago three teens represented Seattle Youth CAN at a national Climate Leadership Conference here in Seattle. Madeleine (far right) was one of our delegates at the final day of the conference (possibly the only teens in attendance). Here are some thoughts from her on the experience:
I am so glad that I had the rare chance to attend the Climate Leadership Conference on Thursday (3/10/16). My experience at the conference was incredible. It was powerful to listen to so many climate leaders from around the United States talk about the action being taken in their various cities.
After the opening speeches and the opening panel, I chose to attend the first of our three options for the second panel. The one that I listed to centered around four speakers. One from Austin, one from San Francisco, one from Denver, and one from Seattle. Each person hold an influential position in the government of their respective city that revolves around climate change and sustainability. Each one spoke about the actions being taken in their city to reduce carbon output as well as switch over to more sustainable energy sources. It was fascinating to hear the different approaches being taken and compare and contrast the different plans and goals each city has. It was shocking (but in a very good way) how ambitious some of the action plans were, for example: Seattle’s current goal for carbon emissions is to be completely carbon neutral by 2050. I loved how the entire conference revolved around what actions people are taking and the plans for the future rather than simply talking about the effects of climate change. I think it is a wonderful approach to take. I admit a few points people made went over my head bit it was fascinating and I feel incredibly lucky to have had the chance to see and even meet so many climate action leaders both in the Seattle area and the wider country.
Member of the SYCAN Youth Leadership Committee
One of the biggest goals of Seattle Youth Climate Action Network is encouraging teens to become interested in climate change and to begin taking action steps towards solving this issue. To reach new and existing youth participants (and the world), we decided to create this blog that would highlight the efforts of various organizations and youth in the Seattle area. On this blog, you will be able to learn more about us, up coming events and opportunities(check the calendar and future posts), climate change issues and local opportunities to take action.
My name is Masayuki and since I am leading the reigns on this blog, you will hear from me often. In this blog post, I want to describe what my experience has been with the Seattle Youth Climate Action Network (SYCAN) Leadership Team , so that you can learn a bit more about the group. To start with, I am in love with the environment. This love began to develop on my hike down the Grand Canyon. I don’t know if it was the red and orange natural beauty that painted the rocks, the clarity of the stars, or the peacefulness that instilled the air that got my attention. It was something that changed my heart into thinking that the environment is worth caring about.
Around that time, the Woodland Park Zoo, Pacific Science Center, and the Seattle Aquarium were developing Seattle Youth CAN and a chance to join a leadership team that would help teens develop environmental awareness and action plans. I thought this was a perfect opportunity to really make a change in my new found love. This group has made me think that change is possible. The first big project that the team created was the 2015 Transportation Challenge. In this challenge, we encouraged teens who lived all over the Seattle area to take public transit, walk, carpool, or ride their bicycle. This way we could be more environmentally friendly with our transportation. To track our results, we logged our trips on Rideshareonline.com. The effect that it had was absolutely shocking. According to the website, during this one month duration, our group had 1,315 trips not driven alone, 23,206 miles not driven alone, 12,128 pounds of CO2 saved from admittance into the air, 617 gallons of Gasoline saved, and $4,728 saved. During that month, I rode the bus every single day, and I still continue to do this.
My experience in this group has been tremendous, and since the day that I joined, I feel that I have been able to make a change in this fight against Climate Change. We want Seattle Youth CAN to be OUR experience and this Blog and upcoming events and actions are your chance to get involved! If you want to join our email list or want to write a guest post on this blog, email us at email@example.com
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, its the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Meed
Looking back, I would have never thought that my interests in climate change, combined with my passion for the ocean and its many organisms, would lead to planning and executing an entire summit dedicated to just that! The focus of the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit’s (YOCS) that occur all over America is to obtain a group of advocates that can collectively form service projects that benefit the planet. Sean Russel created the platform for these summits and ever since he had his first ever YOCS in Florida, so many have occurred within our country. This year in Seattle, we launched the first ever YOCS to be planned by two different Zoo’s/ Aquarium’s!
Four youth, including myself, from the Seattle Aquarium, partnered with Point Defiance Senior Guide program to put together an extremely successful summit. After months of planning, the YOCS hosted just over forty-five youth and a group of empowering speakers on April 16th, 2016. The general schedule, as suggested by Sean Russel himself, is essentially a series of breakout sessions, time for attendees to plan their service projects, youth speakers, and a keynote speaker. Two speakers from Seattle Youth CAN were able to challenge youth to think about the many different ways their communities are affected by climate change. Yoyo and Vishal summarized the Seattle Youth CAN Transportation Challange and the astonishing results that came from it. For our keynote speaker, Andrew Bleiman of Zooborns delivered an amazing speech that left the room feeling empowered and ready to begin their journey as advocates within their communities. The day was a success and the hours of work that went into making it happen were well worth it!