Buying Local: The Future Is Local Food

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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about locally produced, organic food.

On late summer Sundays, Daniel and I would eat a lunch completely made up of foods from the Farmer’s Market. Vegetables from Daniel’s farm, bread, goat cheese, eggs, pesto and honey graced our plates and filled our bellies. This made me think more and more about how local we could possibly eat on a regular basis.

The economy is in turmoil. If our petroleum-based economy crashes and we are forced to live locally, what could we eat? And by we, I mean all of us! What could we/you produce or barter to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

Source: eatlocalgrown.com via eatlocalgrown.com on Pinterest

What would I give up or barter in a local food economy?

I have been wondering what I would have to give up in order to truly eat locally. I was out of coffee a couple weeks ago. I buy it at the store from a roaster about 3 hours away, but it was out of stock. Instead, I bought from a roaster right here in Taos, even though his coffee is not my favorite. It felt good to support a local business.

But when I got home, I realized I wasn’t really buying local at all. We can’t grow coffee here! I drink a lot of black tea, too, and again, we can’t grow it here. Would I have to give these things up to eat locally?

Rice. I love it, but it’s another item our climate will not let us grow. We can grow wheat, barley, buckwheat, rye and quinoa, so we would have to substitute them for rice.

Fruit. I can grow strawberries, raspberries, apples, peaches and pears at my house. At Daniel’s farm 30 minutes north, though, we can’t grow tree fruits. It’s too cold.

Dairy. We can barter for goat or cow cheese, milk and butter.

Bread. Again, we can barter with a local baker for this, and the wheat is grown locally. You can’t just look at who produces your food. You have to know where the ingredients come from.

Eggs. We can barter for eggs, although we plan on raising our own chickens in the future.

Honey. This is another item to barter, but it would be easy to put up hives and trade vegetables from the farm for someone to extract it.

We will not be able to eat mangoes, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, bananas, sweet potatoes, coffee and tea.

We (everyone) are too comfortable using products that come from the other side of the globe. In a truly local economy, that must come to an end.

A rough guide to what’s in season, by season, in the United States. Click through to view this graphic in a larger format. (graphic courtesy of Judith Gold, via visua.ly

 

How to shop and eat sustainably

About 20 years ago, I was in Wild Oats (Whole Foods’ predecessor) in January. There were signs in the produce section stating where the food came from. Apples from Chile caught my eye. I thought, ‘I can’t eat that! It cost a lot of energy to get it here!’

All the winter produce came from way far away, which meant it had been picked under-ripe long before it made it to the store, which, in turn, meant it had lost a lot of its nutritional value. By buying those apples, I would have perpetuated the unnecessary, unhealthful and environmentally negative practice of globally sourcing food.

Source: google.com via Alicia on Pinterest

 

‘Buy Local’ means supporting small farms in your community. No matter what you need – vegetables, fruit, bread, honey, meat, eggs, milk or cheese – an unsubsidized farmer near you is growing it. Small farms are going to be an integral part of a local economy when the system we live in now fails. Find yours, and support it!

Aside from buying food, offer to volunteer or ask for a job. Small farms need a lot of physical labor to get products grown, harvested and on the tables of their customers.

Local Harvest is the most comprehensive website for local food. Search for yours, and get involved!

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Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.