Written by Camron McDonald and Christina Lorella
Often when people talk about globalization, they are thinking about trade. Global trade in food, specifically, can be seen every day in American supermarkets: apples from Chile, bananas from Guatemala, tomatos from Mexico.
Although trade between countries has been going on since the beginning of civilization, the 1980’s and 90’s ushered in a new era of “free trade agreements” in which member countries agreed to limit their use of tariffs and subsidies to control the cost of exports and imports to their advantage. The increase of “free trade” between countries has created a lot of new and complex changes – some good and some bad depending on your perspective.
In the US, we hear a lot about American farmers being threatened by the inexpensive food being imported from the Global South. We also hear about how the cheapness of this food is often dependent on the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources and human labor.
In this global system, it becomes more and more difficult for the consumer to know if their food was produced responsibly. This, in addition to the massive carbon footprint associated with shipping food across continents, is a major reason for the emerging “local food movement” in the US.
While there are many benefits to buying locally, one of the most obvious is that it helps support growth within the local community. Through the sales of local foods and products, Seattleites are directly contributing to the success of their local economies.
Additionally, food that is both grown and sold locally is typically organic and lacks the high levels of pesticides used by global farmers who are often roused into using unhealthy chemicals to perserve the visual appeal of the foods. Since the United States places such a large emphasis on beauty, any foods that are less than perfect are not purchased, putting international farmers under a tremendous amount of pressure. Buying locally not only reduces the environmental impact of shipping items across the world, but it provides a more healthy alternative.
To learn more about Seattle-area farmers markets, where local food and products can be purchased, please click here. If you are interested in making the shift to “local eating”, check out this website for suggestions and helpful resources.