Sustainability Update by Jenna Keany
This month, our sustainability team will be highlighting our extensive and unmatched LOCAL program. After 35+ years in the business, we have developed long and fruitful (pun intended) partnerships with farms in VA, MD, NC, PA, and NJ. Not only does supporting local farms better our community and strengthen its economy, it significantly reduces the carbon footprint of our products. This allows our customers to tailor their menu to food produced with the most sustainable practices, the lowest food miles, and the smallest environmental footprint possible.
There are a number of reasons why buying local fruits and vegetables is better for our environment; the first and most well-known reason is reducing the amount of distance traveled for each food item, or more commonly known as ‘food miles’. Food miles are the total amount of miles traveled from farm to fork, and are used to ensure transparency in food’s overall environmental impact. By calculating the total miles traveled, consumers can decide which items have used the least amount of fuel, and therefore have the smallest carbon footprint.
By purchasing produce from our local growers, Keany Produce & Gourmet can provide exact ‘food miles’ per item to facilitate every customer’s exact needs. For example, Keany has partnered with Hummingbird Farms in Ridgley, MD for 15 years; Hummingbird provides flavorful, hydroponically-grown tomatoes throughout the typical off-season. Only 65 miles from Keany’s warehouse in Maryland, a tomato from Hummingbird Farms has roughly 935 less ‘food miles’ than a common Florida-grown tomato during that time of the year. By buying local tomatoes, and reducing travel distance by 935 miles, you are preventing roughly one metric ton of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. Of course, there are multiple factors to be considered in this case, such as quantity of tomatoes transported per truck load, which would ultimately reduce the individual tomato’s footprint. However, choosing the Hummingbird tomato is the more environmentally considerate choice due to fewer resources (water, soil, energy) used and less synthetic fertilizers needed as it is a completely controlled facility. This equates to less pesticides and herbicides, increased energy efficiency, and of course—less ‘food miles’. In cases such as this, choosing the most sustainable option has never been easier, and we are beyond proud to call Jennifer Sturmer at Hummingbird Farms a long-time friend and partner of Keany Produce & Gourmet.