DEPARTMENT OF CITY PLANNING

Local Food is More Sustainable

What is “local” food?

Local food is food that was grown or produced within a certain radius of where it is consumed. The USDA uses a 400-mile radius for its definition of local food, however some local food advocates have stricter criteria of less than 100 miles. Pittsburgh food distributors and organizations, including Parkhurst, Paragon Foods, Giant Eagle, Sustainable Pittsburgh, and the Pittsburgh Public School System, promote a 150-mile radius for food to be considered locally sourced.

 

Why is local food important?

It is estimated that, on average, food in the U.S. travels more than 1,500 miles from the farm to your plate. Local food is fresher, lasts longer and tastes better than food that has traveled many miles to reach you. In addition, most of those foods are grown using heavy fertilizer and pesticide applications, both of which are made from fossil fuels and cause environmental damage and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Local food is therefore more sustainable in a number of ways.

Buying local food also adds to the economic vibrancy of the region. In Western PA, regional farmers offer a wide variety of food, including vegetables, meat, dairy, fruit and grains. When food producers sell locally, they get more money in their pockets since there are fewer steps to the sale.

Fresh Cabbage Head