Pictured Above: Mary CF Morgan of Drawdown East End is taking the #Dare2Drawdown challenge, buying her food this summer at local farmstands like Latham’s in Orient.

Did you know that how and what you eat is an important factor in reducing greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere?

The creators of Project Drawdown, a science-led project to find solutions to reduce and capture the excess carbon in our atmosphere that is driving climate change, have calculated that about 1/8 of human-caused atmospheric carbon emissions are due to agriculture, food preparation, consumption and waste.

The good news is that this is a great place for you to make changes in your daily life that can have a real impact. And there’s no better time to make these life changes than in the summer, when the East End’s farm stands and farmer’s markets are brimming with local food.

The Beacon is teaming up with Drawdown East End, a group of local activists working to implement the goals of Project Drawdown, for a #dare2drawdown challenge, where we’re urging East Enders to share their efforts on Instagram and other social media, using the hashtags #dare2drawdown and #drawdowneastend. We will share these posts online and in our print edition over the course of the next year.

Our first summer-long challenge is an effort to promote the purposeful purchase of food from local growers and producers. Post your photographs to Instagram or Twitter of your visits to farmstands, farmer’s markets and CSA share pickups, and use the hashtags #dare2drawdown, #drawdowneastend and #reducefoodmiles. We’ll share our favorite photos in future editions of The Beacon.

The Worldwatch Institute has estimated that food eaten in the United States travels on average between 1,500 and 2,500 miles before reaching our plates. 

“We are spending far more energy to get food to the table than the energy we get from eating the food,” said Brian Halweil when he was a research associate at the Worldwatch Institute in the early 2000s. “A head of lettuce grown in the Salinas Valley of California and shipped nearly 3,000 miles to Washington, D.C., requires about 36 times as much fossil fuel energy in transport as it provides in food energy when it arrives.”

You might recognize Brian’s name. He’s now the editor and publisher of Edible East End, and is the author of the Worldwatch paper “Home Grown: The Case for Local Food in a Global Market.”

Worldwatch estimates that a typical meal — some meat, grain, fruits, and vegetables — using local ingredients entails four to 17 times less petroleum consumption in transport than the same meal bought from a grocery store.

There are farmer’s markets in just about every populous community on the East End (see our list here), and our rural corridors are brimming with farmstands that we pass every day in our travels. Take the time to stop today, meet your local farmers and learn about the challenges they face, and keep your food from traveling any farther than it has to.

Reducing food miles is not the only food-related way you can have an impact on the climate crisis. In the United States, 40 percent of our food spoils before it can be eaten. Visit savethefood.com for more details on how to make an impact not only with your shopping habits, but with your daily food preparation and consumption as well.

We’ll be sharing new tips for meeting the Drawdown goals in the months ahead. If you’d like to get a jump on implementing some more of the 100 ideas to combat the climate crisis, visit drawdown.org. 

Next spring, The Beacon and Drawdown East End plan to field a team for the Drawdown EcoChallenge, and this summer’s challenge is a great way to get in the habit of changing your habits. 

Follow us at @eebeacon on Instagram or @eastendbeacon on Twitter to get more updates on our progress toward meeting the #dare2drawdown challenge.

— Beth Young

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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