The Natural Resources Defense Council Loves Local Food

nrdc1 The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a 1.2 million member environmental action organization (which The New York Times has called "One of the nation's most powerful environmental groups"), has an exceptionally broad, ambitious mission statement:

The Natural Resources Defense Council's purpose is to safeguard the Earth: its people, its plants and animals and the natural systems on which all life depends.

The NRDC is a major, major environmental charity with a strong bent towards affecting legislation. Their major priorities are things like addressing global warming, promoting clean energy, and reviving the world's oceans. So it makes me really happy to see that the organization also has its eye on the local, sustainable food movement.

Here are just a couple of examples: The Growing Green Awards The NRDC recently presented Growing Green Awards to people who are doing great work in the sustainable food movement, including Will Allen from Growing Power. Winners were chosen by a panel chaired by Michael Pollan. Eat Local Widgetnrdc In short, this is a simple widget to help figure out what's local, where, and when. Its code can live as happily on your site as it done on mine (right hand side, part-way down the page). Pretty simple. Still, I like the language on the NRDC page well enough to include it here as well.

When we shop at the grocery store today, we don't bat an eye at the sight of strawberries in the winter or perfect tomatoes from Holland. In the space of a generation, we've become accustomed to eating food that's never grown roots in local soil. In fact, most produce grown in the United States travels an average of 1,500 miles before it gets sold. Trucking, shipping and flying in food from around the country and the globe takes a toll on the environment and on public health. Take grapes, for example.

Every year, nearly 270 million pounds of grapes arrive in California, most of them shipped from Chile to the Port of Los Angeles. Their 5,900 mile journey in cargo ships and trucks releases 7,000 tons of global warming pollution each year, and enough air pollution to cause dozens of asthma attacks and hundreds of missed school days in California. The way we eat has an enormous impact on the health of the planet. By choosing to eat lower on the food chain, and focusing on local and organic produce, we can curb global warming and air pollution, avoid toxic pesticides, support local farmers and enjoy fresh, tasty food.

You can read the whole thing here.