Buying Local Food is Sustainable
I've been really fascinated with local food production for years now, but I've been hearing more and more about it in the media. Last week on NPR during Talk of the Nation they had a segment on eating local. One of the guests was Brian Halweil the author of the book Eat Here: Reclaiming Homegrown Pleasures in a Global Supermarket, which I plan on inter-library loaning tomorrow. The show brought up how many parts of the Midwest (prime farmland) grow mostly corn and soybeans and end up importing all of their food. The corn is made into high fructose corn syrup and much of the soybeans are made into partially hydrogenated soybean oil. One of those two ingredients are in most of the food in a conventional grocery store. And we wonder why we have an obesity problem. Go up to Canada. They don't put corn syrup in their Cokes. But because our government continues to subsidize these crops farmers in the heartland have no incentive to grow other crops. However, the small production farmers that are creating CSA's (community supported agriculture)
should be the way of the future. They are becoming very popular in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Not only does the food generally taste better, it is much more environmentally sound because it travels less and the farmers are generally using more sustainable techniques (organic, biodynamic, etc.). Farmers markets are another way to get wonderful local food-not only produce, but meats, cheeses, eggs, honey, fish, and lucky for easterners Maple Syrup. Farmers markets are becoming more popular every year. Grocery stores (especially COOP's) one can search out local food. There are often dairy products that are regionally produced, which provides a better option than one from a national brand shipped 1000's of miles. The more we buy local the fewer semis we have littering the highways. Restaurants are beginning to even get in on the local movement. One diner in Vermont
took it to the extreme, trying to get everything from a 70 mile radius. Even the Oregon fastfood joint Burgerville makes an emphasis on getting only Oregon Beef and Oregon strawberries or their shakes. Even up here in the boonies we have a coffeeshop called the Black Cat, that gets a lot of their produce local and organic, as well as their fish for chowders, and wild rice for salads. There is even a fun little diner,the Delta Diner,
that gets it's bread and meats locally. Every little bit helps. My goal is to get my friends and family to try and seek out the most localized product when making a purchase. Perhaps instead of that iceburg lettuce from California, go for the spinach that is grown in the same state. Or instead of the chicken from god knows where, stop at the local butcher shop to see what meats are local. Tonight I enjoyed a fish sandwich (locally harvested Lake Superior Lake Trout), with fresh veggies from the farmers market and bread from the local bakery, and a baked potato (also from market) with Wisconsin sour cream and chives from my backyard. I didn't even realize until I sat down to eat, how much of my food was local. And boy was it tasty.