Ok so we read a few books (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – Green Metropolis – etc) and got a spark under our butts. However, what was in these books that made us want to really DO IT?? Well you can read the books for yourselves (which I TOTALLY recommend) or I can highlight some of OUR main reasons that we discovered from the books, self reflecting and a little bit of research.
Some would say freshness is a #1 reason for shopping local, as this article does (http://localfoods.about.com/od/finduselocalfoods/tp/5-Reasons-to-Eat-Local-Foods.htm)… However freshness wasn’t our main concern (although it is a concern) ours was the “carbon footprint” we were leaving – even CNN Money states produce has a carbon footprint http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2007/moneymag/0706/gallery.whole_foods.moneymag/2.html After reading AVM (like my acronyms?), more specifically Steven’s blurbs in the book, I realized how much fossil fuel goes into our food. DUH? Right? Well I didn’t think about it right off the bat, but it is there… food has to reach us some way and generally all the avenues in which it does that is via fossil fuels. Carbon is spilling out just to get me my carrots (did you know there was a carrot museum? I found one the other day while chatting with Mr. Fed Up [http://fedupfood.com/] here it is: http://www.carrotmuseum.co.uk/). As a family we decided there had to be a better way… so hence our shopping locally. We are also trying to grow some of our own produce, as well as accept donations from our aunt/uncle… but to supplement our high need for food (you should see my husband eat) we are going to have to shop at the farmer’s market. Which is fine with us!! This doesn’t mean we are eating only produce, J is a meat and potatoes man… so he needs his cow/chicken/turkey as much as his tuber, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. The meat however still has a carbon foot print… it has to get to us right? Well the closer we buy to where to cow/chicken/turkey/etc lived/died and was ready to eat the less gas has to go into getting it us.
Secondly, and firstly according to some, is nutrition and flavor. This website discusses a bit of the science behind harvesting for freshness, http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/picking-peak?page=0,0, I doubt large commercial growers shipping across country worry to much about this. Another website supporting the idea that the longer it takes for produce to reach your plate after harvesting the greater the loss of nutrients: http://www.superkidsnutrition.com/nutrition_answers/of_benefitsproduce.php .
And last, but definitely not least… is enjoyment! I think it is SO fun to go to a local farmer’s market (or artisan market). I love people watching, talking with the growers themselves and even asking about recipes they may have or want to share with me. Who knows produce better than the grower themselves? This past summer, right after we arrive here in MI, we were visiting the Fulton Street Market and I was making a LOT of at home baby food. Fruit purees were my favorite to make and I stopped by one small grower and talked to her about her peaches/plums. I asked her when she picked the peaches, what else she grew on her land, what fertilizers/pesticides she used, etc. I was so happy to hear everything I was buying was picked the day prior by her family and that no fertilizer was used. She had inherited his land, which was over 100 yrs in the family and it has a good crop of tress, detritus on the ground, etc and she just let it go. She said she would occasionally have to protect again some pests… but she only used USDA organic approved materials. I trusted her based on the fact that to carry that “organic” sign in front of her “booth” she had to have proper documentation into the farmer’s market. I felt good about it. ALSO she knew what peaches to use for the best purees, she was a mom and had made baby food and had great tips.
What are YOUR reasons for shopping local?? Or what reasons do you have for NOT shopping local? Let’s start up some dialogue!