Why buying locally is best for our environment

Fruit and vegetables are an essential part of a balanced diet, and many Australian families load up their produce bags with tasty ingredients each week.

However, it's not often that you think about where those fresh apples or juicy watermelons are actually coming from, and how it could impact the environment.

The truth is that lots of your groceries may originate in locations a long way from home. Often, products are imported from overseas or other parts of Australia, particularly when they are out of season.

Though this might not seem important, the cost of transporting our food (and other materials) can have a major impact on the environment through the creation of dangerous greenhouse gases.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, energy required for transport via road, water and air often uses fossil fuels.

Apart from the fact that fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas are non-renewable energy sources, they also create and release a large amount of carbon dioxide into the earth's atmosphere, which is known to be a large contributor to global warming.

According to the Australian Government Department of the Environment, the transport sector contributed the release of 83 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2009, an amount predicted to reach 104 million tonnes by 2030.

To minimise your contribution to this growing total, buying local fresh produce is the best way to go. Australia has many local farmers' markets approved by the Australian Farmers Market Association, which aims to provide consumers with quality produce while supporting community farmers and gardeners.

Because produce from your nearest market is likely to come from farms near your home, the cost of transporting it from the garden to your fridge comes at a much lower price for the environment. Often, it's also a lot cheaper for your wallet.

Being smart about produce choices and loading up your eco friendly bag with in-season, local produce is a delicious way to fuel your family – with significantly less damage to the environment.