Eat Local Guide :: Sarasota Edition


Why Eat Local?

There’s so many good reasons to eat locally, it’s a wonder more of us aren’t doing it already. Here are just a few of the most important:

Health & Safety

Locally-grown food is usually, though not always, better for you and your family. It hasn’t been trucked across the country or flown around the world, so it’s typically days or weeks fresher, and because you can actually visit the farm where your food is grown, you can find out exactly what’s gone into it. Simply knowing your farmer provides more accountability than government regulation could ever hope to achieve.

Food Security

With oil production peaking and growing instability in the Middle East, our industrial food system is under serious threat. Thousand-acre monoculture farms and global supply chains that take approximately 10 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce and deliver just one calorie of food energy are extremely vulnerable to rising energy prices.

Over the past century, we have largely dismantled the local food networks that previously enabled us to feed ourselves. Now it is time to rebuild them again. While there’s no reason why we can’t do this, cultivating soil takes time, so it’s important that we start transitioning to local, sustainable agriculture well in advance of any crisis.

Economic Development

According to the American Independent Business Alliance, locally-owned, independent businesses return 80% of every dollar back to the local economy, while most of what we spend every day at chain stores leaves our community, never to return. Food dollars are no exception.

Whether you buy from a farmstand, purchase a CSA share, or shop at a farmers’ market, every purchase you make is a vote for the future you wish to see and helps create new green jobs that are the basis of a sustainable local economy.


By now, most of us are now aware that the average food item travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate. But the environmental destruction wrought by industrial agriculture travels far beyond excessive energy use.

The Amazon rainforest is being cut down to plant soybeans to fatten animals for fast food restaurants; hundreds of tons of topsoil are washed down the Mississippi River every day, creating a massive dead-zone in the Gulf of Mexico; and pesticides and herbicides, synthetic hormones, and genetically-modified foods are altering the ecological balance in ways we have yet to understand.

In contrast to this horror, certain methods of organic agriculture, such as Permaculture, have been shown to actually improve environmental quality by increasing biodiversity, building topsoil, purifying water, fixing nitrogren, and sequestering carbon.

Social Justice

It’s a common misconception that the relocalization of food production in rich countries will hurt those in developing countries who can least afford it. In recent decades, U.S. agricultural policy has resulted in foreign markets being flooded with subsidized commodity crops at prices cheaper than local farmers can produce them, forcing them out of business and driving them off their land into overcrowded cities in search of jobs that often aren’t there.

Community & Connection

Revitalization of a “slow food” culture can bring us together with family and friends to reconnect around the dinner table. Likewise, the cycle of planting, cultivating, and harvesting reconnects us with the seasons and the whole of the natural world.


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