Tree Hugger Tuesday: Ode to Summer… FOOD!
A special Tree-Hugger Tuesday pictorial edition!
Instead of dispensing sage advice in too many words this month (awwww shucks I know), I decided to simply spread my l-o-v-e for local food, it being July (fuck! already!) n’ all – the time of year when I am head-over-heels for farmer’s markets and PYOs!
Eating local does have significant benefits for your community and your world. Food is typically shipped far shorter distances, grown on a smaller scale and more environmentally conscious, often organic, and buying locally means you put money directly back into the community you live in. You can also reduce your waste by using your own bags, and it’s not processed (which has high energy costs) or heavily packaged (energy AND waste!).
Now. A word of caution: In my local neck o’ the woods, farmer’s markets have strict guidelines about who can sell, in terms of how far the food is moved, how large the farm is, etc. Not all farmer’s markets have such guidelines, and there are rumors of people buying from stores and selling at markets at a higher price. This, of course, is fairly easily avoided by talking to the organizers of your local market (they almost always have a table or booth) as well as to the farmer’s themselves. Find out where there farm is, how big it is, who runs it, etc. If they’re truly local, they’ll probably be happy to talk with you!
And that’s all I’m gonna say about the environmental and community impacts of buying local food this summer – instead I’m hoping to convince you because food is just better this way by showing you.
In the photographic evidence submitted here, exactly FIVE ingredients are not local: the almonds, Parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and grapeseed oil I use to saute. Everything else I either picked myself, or is from farmers within 50 miles of my house, and people that I know. Yep, even the wine!
And all of it, without a doubt, will drop-kick whatever you buy at the grocery right out the window.
Keep in mind that a great alternative to the market is purchasing a share in a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). I don’t do this because it’s typically far more food than I can handle, and I just love going to the market and picking out my produce. Word of caution: definitely discuss the CSA in depth with the people providing it. CSAs were originally to connect people with their farms and food, and this isn’t necessarily happening any more.
How do you find local markets? Why, THE INTERWEBS! Really, if you live in the US, simply type in “find local farmer’s markets [my area]” and you should find something. Additional nation-wide databases are available at
Local Farmer’s Markets: http://www.localfarmmarkets.org/
The US Dept of Agriculture even has a directory: http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/
Another great resource for changing how you eat is the Slow Food Movement. Find a local chapter here.