Growing up in America, what do you see? McDonald’s advertising its latest and greatest dollar menu burger. You can even get Panda Express in burrito form, ya know, in case you’re running late or just in the mood for a cheap (delicious?) bite to eat.
Fast food can be found everywhere across the nation, from hospitals to airports to elementary schools. In 1970, Americans alone spent $6 billion on fast food; in 2000 it was up to $110 billion.
The consequences of fast food lie beyond just the calorie count. Families are no longer making dinner and eating together. Fast food replaces healthy food. Instead it’s KFC and Netflix. About one third of all children and adolescents eat fast food everyday. Among people aged 18 to 27, 57 percent reported that they eat fast food weekly.
At Cal Poly’s campus market, there is only one small refrigerated section of fresh food, and it is typically poorly stocked. It’s countered by isles and isles of boxed, canned or bagged food. Delicious.
Although cheap, easy fast food is, well, cheap and easy, healthy food becoming more and more trendy. Diabetes trends have even started declining, going from 1.7 million cases,to 1.4 million.
Although eating healthy is the obvious number one choice, it is often neglected. In this fast paced world, some people struggle to find time to go to the store one or twice a week to get fresh produce or make home cooked meals, so they end up running to McDonald’s or buying the frozen food that lasts indefinitely.
Luckily, companies are meeting this demand for getting healthy food easily; now, you can hand deliver fresh produce to your doorstep.
SLO Veg is a local company that helps get affordable, freshly grown produce to customers all around the San Luis Obispo county. Getting their produce from 25 to 30 different local farms, SLO Veg delivers to customers across the county.
Owner Rachael Hill networked with local farmers and even the Cal Poly Agriculture department in order to get SLO Veg started. SLO Veg, “Partners with people that truly help create awareness” in order to get the word out, says Hill.
SLO Veg offers four different size boxes to cater to each individual customer’s needs. And if you don’t like some of the goods you received, you can tell SLO Veg and they will make changes to your future order. There are even add ons such as honey, fresh fish and olive oil, says Hill.
Can it get better than that? Well, believe it or not, it does. SLO Veg, and similar companies, provide even more benefits than getting delicious, locally grown food to your doorstep.
Economically, eating local food helps support your local communities. Nearly three times as much money is re-circulated within SLO County promoting local farms and giving more employment opportunities to everyone in your community.
“We are all about giving back. Whether you are with our company or our competitors, it’s just our goal to get people to eat healthier, be healthier and eat locally to help our community.” —Rachael Hill
Eating locally also helps cut down the distance it takes for food to get from the farm, to your plate; it’s estimated that it takes 1500 miles for food to get to you. That is more than across half the United States. It’s estimated that “we currently put almost 10 kcal of fossil fuel energy into our food system for every 1 kcal of energy we get as food.”
In addition to putting out vast amounts of fossil fuels into the environment, the transportation process also means that foods are picked before they are ripe to survive the trek. Some are gassed in order to ripen them, others are genetically modified to last longer or even treated with preservatives.
“The minute something is picked, it starts dying, losing that nutritional value,” says Hill. “Picking it fresh has all the nutrients and vitamins. Plus, there is no comparison to the taste.”
Vegetables at the local stores that claim to be locally grown are sometimes shipped all the way to Los Angles in order to be gassed to last longer, and then put back on the shelves here says Hill.
Other countries naturally practice eating locally grown food. Regina Karimdjanova discusses how life was her back in Uzbekistan and it tops life in America in a few aspects:
With sustainable, locally grown healthy food, we can kill four birds with one stone. We can bring money into the local economy. We can eat food that is better for our health and the environment. We can make the world a better place for generations to come.
Let’s try and at least put a dent in one America’s issues that is fixable by us. We can start with one simple, easy trick—buying locally, sustainably grown food.