Lettuce eat locally!

With increasing concerns over global warming come questions about how to make a difference in our day-to-day lives. As Anglicans in this Diocese, we benefit from the leadership of parish environmental stewards, and can look into our rich history for traditions to help us find ways to address these questions.

Rogation Sunday, for example, which is celebrated in mid-May, is a time to mark the planting of the crops, and now, as farmers' markets open and local, in-season produce becomes available- it's time to celebrate the first harvests! Eating locally has become one of the most talked about ways to reduce our individual impact on greenhouse gas emissions, and here's why...

Eating locally can be framed around the concept of "food miles". Food miles are the distance that a given ingredient travels from farm - or factory - to plate. According to the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, the average ingredient in a typical American meal travels at least 1500 food miles. Since the Canadian food system is integrated with the U.S. system it's safe to extrapolate that our food travels a similar distance.

While it's easy to see how purchasing food produced as close to home as possible will cut back on carbon emissions, there are other compelling reasons to make this conscious food choice.

Eating locally means eating what is in season. The variety of eating seasonally ensures that our bodies receive a wide variety of nutrients and flavours that will keep us both healthy and interested all year round. The first strawberry of summer tastes much sweeter if our taste buds have been anticipating its flavour all winter.

Local eating also benefits local economies and communities. Keeping food dollars circulating in local communities results in a four fold increased economic benefit over dollars spent at food providers where the money is circulated out of the community.

One of the great pleasures of local eating is connecting with the people who produce the food. A visit to a farmers' market is an education in what it takes to produce food. Every farmer has their own philosophy on how to grow good food and as a result each potato or head of lettuce has a story.

As Christians, and people of many other faiths, food plays a central role in our social rituals. We gather around the altar on Sunday mornings, sharing in a sacred meal. We say grace before meals, recognizing the many hands that have grown and prepared the food we are about to eat.

As Anglicans, we rejoice in egg-salad sandwiches...and perhaps its time to start asking just where the hen that lay that egg spends her days (not to mention how the farmer takes care of her). With food as a central component of our faith, there is a daily opportunity to make a choice for a stronger community, a cleaner environment and a brighter future.

Jeff Nield works at FarmFolk/CityFolk (www.farmfolkcityfolk.ca). Paige Dampier works at the Synod Office and is married to an organic farmer.