09 May 2011

Food sustainability means more money for the local economy

by Deron Schriver

We’re facing a huge challenge as a society that, thankfully, more and more people each day are starting to realize. How can we maintain a strong global economy that provides for the entire population, while still protecting the planet and maintaining our precious and increasingly limited natural resources? When the focus is on the economy and jobs, we tend to think of production and consumption at any cost. As I mentioned in my previous post, the concept of sustainability sheds light on the effects of this thinking.

But wait. Don’t stop reading because you think this is just another piece about the environment or global warming. According to the Horn Farm Center for Agricultural Education, 99.5 percent of the $900 million spent on food by York County residents leaves the County! If that 0.5 percent share was increased to just 5 percent, that would amount to an additional $40 million retained in the local economy. It’s not difficult to make a local economic development case out of this issue.

If that’s not enough, consider this from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: “If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week.”

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather support the York economy than that of Iran.

Sustainability, including food sustainability, should be something we all think about. The younger generation will hopefully grow up with more awareness of the issue. York College has even created a Sustainability and Environmental Studies minor to, among other things, help students understand how our actions as humans can prevent or mitigate negative impacts on the environment. We can expect great things from a program like that.

Sustainability is not a liberal or conservative issue. It’s about being more forward thinking and big picture-oriented, traits on which we already place a lot of value. We might not run out of food in our lifetimes, and we may or may not go bankrupt from skyrocketing healthcare costs in the next decade, but we are on an unsustainable path and we must set a new direction. In the next post, I will dive into the world of industrialized food and discuss ways we can all contribute to a more sustainable future.

Deron Schriver is the executive administrator for The Women's Healthcare Group and a member of the Guiding Committee for Healthy World Café. He has a particular interest in studying and participating in solutions to address health issues affecting our society. Deron earned a bachelor's degree in accounting and a master's in business administration, both from York College. He lives in West Manchester Township with his wife, Lisa.

1 comment:

jackiefullam said...

Very interesting information we need to get more people thinking about. What are your thoughts on the healthfulness of eating grains? I like your comment about eating at least 1 meal composed of local meats and produce. Thanks