Does eating locally really benefit the environment?

    We often hear of the benefits of eating locally sourced food, such as better care for the animals, supporting small businesses, getting more organic nutrients, and much more. Although there are definitely benefits of eating locally sourced food, there are many misconceptions surrounding the issue. In this article I will quickly highlight the benefits of eating local sourced food, as well as some of the potential pitfalls and fallacies. 
         Benefits of Eating Locally Sourced Foods:
    1. Local foods are generally more nutritious and better for your body. The longer it takes for food to be consumed, the more processed the food will typically have to be. This will diminish the nutritional value your body receives. Additionally, foods that are shipped to large distribution centers across the country are often mass produced and in efforts to cut costs, there may be less quality control leading to less healthy food in general. Large companies that sell nationwide often use dangerous pesticides on their crops, growth hormones on their livestock, and genetically modify foods to increase the size at the expense of the nutritional value. For example, almost all corn is genetically modified and sprayed with pesticides, so if you have the ability to purchase locally grown corn, the extra cost may be worth it for your own health.
    2. Local foods taste better and support small businesses. Eating locally grown produce tastes better not only because of the effort of small business owners perfecting their craft, but also because of the freshness of the food. While shopping at a local market you will find that most of the products you purchase were probably harvested within the past day. Although the price may be slightly higher, it is usually worth the investment to eat healthier, tastier food and ultimately support the small business owner so that they can continue to provide high quality products.
    3. Eating locally may benefit the environment. This one is debatable since researchers have found that 83% of emissions occur before food even leaves the farm. However, most of this is due to the excessive consumption of meat, especially in larger developed countries like the United States and China. As the global middle class rises in population, so does dairy and meat consumption. At the current rate, farmers will have to more than double their production by 2050 although the population won't have doubled. Producing a pound of chicken or beef requires 4-12 pounds of grain respectively, so it is an incredibly inefficient way to feed the people and has a negative impact on the environment no matter if local or not. Therefore, if plant-based diets are implemented and become the standard, eating locally will be beneficial for the environment. It is common knowledge that trees rid the world of carbon dioxide that damages our environment. What better way to combat climate change than by expanding agriculture on treeless land rather than forests? Imagine a world where instead of seeing farms full of grass and livestock, you see trees and greens providing abundant foods while also helping the earth breathe cleaner air. China and India are ahead of the curve in combating climate change with the planting of trees, and regardless of whether our government decides to make similar decisions, we can always make our own choices to encourage green growth.
    Overall, eating locally is beneficial for many reasons. It is necessary to keep in mind however, that to truly help the environment, a plant-based diet is key. The majority of our nutrients can be healthily consumed from plants in a cheap and highly efficient manner. So, do yourself and our planet a favor, and go buy some locally sourced produce!