Eat local, save the planet


While climate change is typically associated with power plants, rising sea levels, or melting glaciers, an often overlooked yet important piece of the issue is our food system – agriculture is at the same time a cause, victim, and potential solution to climate change, depending on the way we grow and transport food from the fields to our plates.

This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. The opinions expressed by Community Voices contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TC Daily Planet.

In a new event series, Dine for Climate, the Will Steger Foundation is making the connection between climate change and our food system by partnering with local restaurants (Birchwood Cafe, French Meadow Bakery & Café/Bluestem Bar, Spoonriver, and Lucia’s) that source organic and sustainable food from Minnesota farmers. The Dine for Climate events will showcase how eating local and organic is a climate change solution.

The first dinner will be held at Birchwood Cafe on Thursday, Nov. 13.

How is enjoying a delicious meal at Birchwood Cafe helping to solve climate change? As far as lifestyle changes go, rethinking the way you eat and choosing to support sustainable, locally sourced food vendors can make a big impact.

With our eating choices, we can decide to support large-scale, energy-intensive farming or we can lift up organic and carbon-sequestering forms of agriculture, not only lowering our carbon footprints but helping direct the food system’s transition towards a healthier and more sustainable model.

Consider the difference: the global food system is responsible for roughly half of all greenhouse gas emissions when you take into account not only agriculture, but the ensuing land use change (deforestation), transportation, processing, packaging, and distribution of modern food. In contrast, research shows that we could sequester more than 100 percent of current annual carbon dioxide emissions by switching to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices.

By becoming conscientious eaters and supporting food vendors that source from local farms, we can shift our food system from a climate change creator to a climate change solution.

While Dine for Climate is a small part of this switch, a key goal of the events is to foster more awareness about how our food choices make an impact on the broader food system and on climate change. Addressing climate change will require deep and profound changes in our society, but that doesn’t mean that individuals cannot take meaningful action on the issue.

Eating local and sustainably grown food is not only effective, it’s delicious as well.

Full disclosure: Katie Siegner is the communications intern for the Will Steger Foundation.