How does purchasing locally-sourced food items affect the environment, and in what ways can I work with my community to shop more sustainably?

What you need to know:

Think Globally. Act Locally.

In addition to these benefits, you are also preserving genetic diversity when you shop locally.

“In the modern agricultural system, plant varieties are chosen for their ability to ripen uniformly, withstand harvesting, survive packing and last a long time on the shelf, so there is limited genetic diversity in large-scale production. Smaller local farms, in contrast, often grow many different varieties of crops to provide a long harvest season, an array of colors, and the best flavors. Livestock diversity is also higher where there are many small farms rather than few large farms.” – The University of Vermont

“It’s more ethical.”

Because local farms and food producers are on a smaller scale than industrial organic farming operations, you can generally trust that local food will be produced more ethically. Just because a chicken is fed organic feed doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t be crammed into a massive indoor facility (which still counts as “cage-free”) and treated like a commodity.
– Spoon university
Photo Courtesy of Caroline Attwood

My response: what can we do?


My first approach to tackling this issue was to start hyper-locally: in my own backyard. Over the past week, I started a garden and planted some herbs that I have been implementing into my cooking. My goal is to start planting vegetables and fruits that can be used as the primary component of a meal. Starting a garden is a small step, but I hope that this will inspires others to do the same. Any efforts towards reducing food miles is productive, so I hope that this inspires others to make some sort of shift — no matter how small. Below I have included some examples of the types of herbs I have planted:

Basil leaves in my garden
Mint leaves in my garden


My second response to this issue is to make sustainability easy for individuals that are new to shopping locally. Since I live in Northern California, I researched the food that is in-season and accessible at local markets during different times of the year, along with dishes that can be made using these ingredients. I will distribute this guide to members of my community — including friends, family, and neighbors — and I encourage you to research the foods that are in-season in your local area!

Part III

My third and final attempt to mitigate climate change through promoting locally-sourced food is to plan a community gardening day with the members of my town.

Community Garden Blueprint:

How will you help?

In the comment section below, please share your response(s).

(1) After viewing this presentation, what is one feasible change you can implement in your own life to shop and eat more sustainably?

(2) What solutions can you think of to lower our carbon and waste footprint when purchasing food?

(3) How do people in your life (i.e. community members, neighbors, friends, family, etc.) shop sustainably? What inspiration can you draw from these actions?

Works Cited Document

Share this project
  1. April 23, 2020 by Mila Tewell

    Hi Grace, you address such an important and nuanced subject here – that affects us as individuals and our communities in so many ways. I would love to see your progress on this important, multi-faceted project, and hope you will find ways to share what you learn with other communities and climate activists. I like you just started my garden — with herbs and lettuce, broccoli, and sugar snap peas thus far– in the Northeast so the climate demands a later start outdoors:) Do you have any community gardens in your area as models for your work? Again I hope you will find ways to share and trade your unfolding “Think Globally, Act Locally” plans with fellow students across our GOA community. Thanks!

  2. April 23, 2020 by Ale Cantu

    I am proud of the work you have created! 🙂

  3. April 24, 2020 by Sarah

    I love that you made your own garden! I love this project because it is specific to your community but definitely adaptable in other places around the world. Great job!!

  4. April 24, 2020 by Farah

    Hi Grace,

    You have some really strong ideas here, that are really coming through your work. I especially like your Part II, because it relates to those who might be new to gardening and want to pursue it, but don’t know how? How do you plan to engage those who don’t have a space for a garden, other than the Community Garden Blueprint? Will provide resource for them to have a mini-garden (I know some people can use pots to grow certain vegetables)? There could be other alternatives, too.

    Good luck with your project. It is very engaging.

    Farah L.

  5. April 25, 2020 by John Alan A.

    Good job overall, I really like that you’ve created your own at-home garden.

  6. April 25, 2020 by Malia

    Hey Grace – Awesome project! I love the pictures from your garden that you started! After reading this, you inspired me to start a mini garden of my own! One of my best friends grows herbs on her roof, which inspires me as well. Another way to lower our carbon footprint would be to find ways to reduce our food waste as well. Maybe meal planning, so you can buy only what you need? Also, I know that having a grocery store close to homes reduces waste as well, as people will not overbuy for fear of wasting time having to commute back to the store.

  7. April 25, 2020 by Katie

    Hi Grace! Great job on this project! I especially loved your home garden component. One way that I can shop/eat more sustainably is research farmers’ markets in my area—I know that most probably not active right now due to COVID, but I think it would be great to have some knowledge about my food-shopping options for when they reopen. Another solution to lowering the carbon/waste footprint is to adjust our transportation when purchasing food (e.g. biking/walking to the grocery store rather than driving when possible).

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