For us, having gluten sensitivities (Clara and me); the dairy allergy (Aaron and Clara and maybe Iris); and just being busy, working people makes it feel impossible to buy all of our food from local sources. Someday I hope to do a kind of local eating “marathon” but for now it’s just not sustainable on a daily basis. So we do the best we can, knowing every little bit helps.
Radishes from the farmer's market
Here are some of the sources that got me started, along with some current info (and a little rant):
1) 100 Mile Diet - This site is my inspiration for incorporating more local food into our routine. I’m going to start their new book, Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally during our holiday.
2) Buy Organic, and you’re supporting Big Industrial Food. [The graphic on this page is a little awkward in that you see one chart and then you have to mouse over it to see the other one.]
I guarantee you that you’ll see some of you favorite organic brands on this list, and see that they’re owned by the biggest industrial food manufacturers in the world.
In fact, I just realized that the brand of cashew butter I buy, Kettle Foods, which used to be owned locally here, is now owned by a U.K. company. Wah.
This is not to mean that you should not buy the products on this chart. You should. If it’s not local, organic is still better than conventional industrial food. I buy these products every time I go to the store.
3) That said, I always try to see if there is a locally-grown product, or at least a local company who may use some locally-grown ingredients. Even if all the ingredients are from somewhere else (like with my Kettle Foods Cashew Butter), at least the dollars are staying close to home. Experts say that for every $1 you spend locally you create value of $5 - $14 in the community.
4) “Grocers Get Organic Certified” - I honestly never thought about the fact that my organic broccoli might be touching non-organic broccoli in the grocery store. I wonder if it’s really worth it to spend $500,000.00 to “upgrade” a grocery store to have fixtures and equipment that separate the two types of food.
Couldn’t we spend that money to pay local farmers more for their crops which will encourage them to use fewer pesticides (though most small farms use less than you probably think), as opposed to “certified” organic, which often isn’t totally pesticide-free anyway? This seems more of a cosmetic issue to me.
Clara collecting herbs for our garden at an independent nursery
5) Time Magazine: “Eating Better than Organic” Nice little article about the process of buying local food and how it may be a better choice--in the big picture--than organic. Because the best part of eating local food is the connections you make with people along the way.