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How to Eat Local (and Help the Environment) in Detroit

Food production and transportation are significant contributors to greenhouse gases. Besides the resources used to grow food, it takes energy to preserve, package, and ship our food around the country. Before it reaches your plate, food travels an average of 1500 miles! 

One way to cut down on the food energy footprint is to eat locally. By purchasing local foods, you can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by 4-5%, or by around 1 metric ton per year. Luckily, Detroit has over 1,500 urban farms and a diverse food economy, making it easy to reduce your climate impact through food. Below are 5 ways you can eat locally in Detroit with links to resources to help you get started. 

1. Shop at Farmers Markets. 

Stop by the largest and oldest market in the United States, Eastern Market, to buy from local farmers, restaurant vendors, listen to music, and more. They also offer cooking classes to learn new and healthy ways of cooking with produce. Many farms have produce for sale right at their farm too, such as D-Town Farm and Food Field. Check out Detroit Community Markets for a large list of markets and farm stands, and how to get there. 

Many markets accept SNAP and offer the Double Up Food Bucks program: you spend $1 with your Bridge Card, and get $1 free, up to $20 a day. 

2. Dine at Restaurants that Source Locally. 

Breakfast: Detroit Institute of Bagels ($), Brooklyn Street Local ($$), Folk ($$) 

Lunch: Avalon ($), Supinos Pizzeria ($$), Mudgies Deli and Wine Shop ($$) 

Dinner: Selden Standard ($$), Cliff Bell’s ($$), Chartreuse Kitchen and Cocktails ($$$) 

There are many local breweries to support local food after hours as well: Batch Brewing Company, Jolly Pumpkin, and Atwater Brewery are just a few. 

3. Grow your own Food. 

Keep Growing Detroit and Peace Tree Parks will provide you with everything you need to start your first garden. You can also join one of the hundreds of community gardens, to make it easier as a beginner gardener with the use of shared utilities and equipment often provided. Or, volunteer at a farm like Oakland Avenue and Earthworks Urban Farm, that welcomes volunteers and offers educational classes on gardening, preserving, composting, and more. 

4. Prevent Food Waste.

Around 30% of all food is wasted, making up 8% of annual greenhouse emissions. Make Food Not Waste in Detroit has various resources and events available to prevent food waste, such as their event teaching people how to cook with food scraps that would normally be discarded. Forgotten Harvest rescues food waste and redistributes it to fight hunger. If you do have to “throw” your food away- compost it! Composting prevents the creation of greenhouse gases from decomposition in a landfill, and will give you nutritious soil to use in your garden! 

5. Support Local Food Nonprofits. 

Nonprofits like Detroit Food Academy, FoodLab Detroit, Michigan Urban Farming Initiative, the Detroit Food Policy Council, Make Food Not Waste, Forgotten Harvest, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, and the Fair Food Network, all work to strengthen the local food system in Detroit as a whole, from advocacy to increasing food access to community building. Also, stay up-to-date on local food via journalism outlets like Tostada Magazine and edibleWOW. Support these organizations and others with your time, participation, business, and enthusiasm! 

Jena Brooker is the current Planet Detroit Intern. Follow her on Twitter at  @j_e_n_a_b . Follow Planet Detroit on Twitter at @PlanetDetroit.

This is the first in a series of service pieces Planet Detroit will be producing with our partners to help Detroiters understand how their actions can impact the environment and ways to make positive change here in the city and region. To learn more, sign up for the Planet Detroit Newsletter, a free weekly email newsletter designed to keep you up to date on local environmental news.

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Photo by Justin McAfee on Unsplash