Wednesday, May 22, 2013

GIS Supports Eat Local Efforts

Lea Delfs

     The Washington College GIS Lab is currently working on updating the Upper Shore Harvest Directory which will formally launch in May 2013. Lea Delfs, an international exchange student from the University of Tuebingen in Germany, has been working on this project throughout the semester. Lea supports eating locally grown food because it is healthier than buying food at the supermarket, it helps to improve the environment by reducing the amount of emissions released into the air, and it helps sustain and improve the local economy.

      The Upper Shore Harvest Directory is a brochure and new interactive website helping to connect residents of Cecil, Kent, and Queen Anne’s Counties in Maryland with local producers of sustainable agricultural products and services. The directory helps people find local businesses such as fruit and vegetable farms, fishing charters, restaurants, and many more. It promotes both environmental and economic sustainability by encouraging residents to keep their money in the community and reduce their carbon footprints by choosing local businesses.

      Lea initially helped reach out to business owners who were thinking of joining the directory and explained the many benefits it could provide to them. One of the exciting things about this project is that it gets the students directly involved with the local community. Lea has visited several of the farms included in the Upper Shore Harvest Directory and helped film videos that will be featured on the website. She has also written articles for the Harvest Directory’s blog, including one about the many benefits of eating locally grown food.

Photo Courtesy of: Google Images
     Lea offers three reasons why it is better to eat locally: it is healthier, it helps reduce your carbon footprint, and it helps to strengthen the local economy. Locally grown produce is generally picked 24 hours before you purchase it and is not exposed to harmful pesticides and herbicides like mass production produce is. “The extra time to ripen also allows them to collect more nutrients from the soil and pass that extra nutrition along to you and your family.”

     “From field to fork, an average dinner travels 1,500 miles.” The distance between the farmer and the consumer increases the food’s susceptibility to harmful contamination. Tractor trailers that are used to transport food long distances use a lot of fuel, and this can be very harmful to the environment. Purchasing goods from local farmers as opposed to supermarkets that get their food from all over the country can help reduce your carbon footprint and preserve our limited natural resources of fuel.
     “Did you know that most farmers only receive about 20% of the final purchase price of their food? The other 80 percent goes to marketing, distribution, and packaging: all things that are necessary to run a large store, but are not necessary for a farmers’ market.” When you buy locally grown food, you help farmers make a living and keep your money in the local community.

-By: Rachel Puglia

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