When you buy food that’s been grown or produced nearby, you help cut down on the average 1,500 miles food travels from farm to fork. That means reducing the amount of oil being burned and the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere. Plus, buying locally often means supporting small farms—which are typically using sustainable agricultural techniques that protect water and build healthy soils. They don’t have the option of moving their operations to new locations when the soil becomes unworkable. Their livelihood, and the health of the towns they live in, depends on sustainable growing techniques that preserve and replenish the fertility of their small patch of soil. Local growers also typically plant a wide variety of crops, in contrast to some large industrial farms, which grow hundreds or thousands of acres of the same crop. Crop diversity is a good defense against the spread of damaging insects and plant pathogens. If a problem arises in one crop, it’s unlikely to spread to others.