It’s possible the term ‘local economy’ could take on a whole new meaning in the next decade or so. It could mean more of our food budgets could be spent on locally-grown produce. There are signs ‘sustainable cities’ could one day dot the landscape across Kentucky. These are communities that claim their impact on the environment is zero. Richard Olson, who chairs ‘Sustainable Berea’ says a sustainable city also enjoys economic health. “It behooves communities to look and see how they can increase their local economies..look at what local resources they have…anything from land to existing industries..to the skills of the people,” said Olson.
Olson says the interest in sustainability has blossomed as Kentuckians have grown concerned with the environment, dwindling fossil fuels, population growth, and worldwide debt.
He says people also worry about the cost of transporting food and with its place of origin. As a result, more communities hope to grow their own food.
“People like to eat and they and they like good local food, they like to share recipes and talk about the heirloom tomatoes that their grandparents used to grow…it’s just a really good entry point to get people to talk about a lot of issues without even mentioning the word ‘ sustainability,” added Olson.
Olson says it’s being borne out through more household and community gardens, farmers markets, and land preservation efforts. But another driving factor is the price of fuel.
“The era of cheap fossil fuels that are entire global food system relies on is ending so whether we want to be able to have grapes from Chile in the winter and lettuce from California those trucks aren’t going to be able to keep rolling that much longer because of energy issues,” said Olson.
Olson admits it’s an economic shift which is not happening soon. For example, 80 thousand pound of food would be needed each day to feed the southern Madison County community of Berea.