Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A little bit on buying local...

So this whole blog is turning into conversations (mostly with myself, I have noticed... lol) about food and how it is prepared, and where it comes from, and books I am reading on it. lol... What else to do in January when you are a die hard gardener and the ground is frozen solid? You plan. So I am planning... and also thinking, re-evaluating, and re-prioritizing.

What does it mean to buy local? I have been having trouble with this. Becuase it seems that all the stuff I can get local will help, but what about the stuff I know I can't? Grains? Oatmeal? Rice? These are staples in our diet. And buying them locally would pretty much mean either getting them from a feed store (and then their practices would be seriously questioned and not near as defined by law) or growing it myself (I can only do so much with my back yard!). It seems, from my readings, no one else really bothers either... that or they can't get it local just like me.

I am now reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle... which is an awsome book. I am finding it hard to put it down to do anything but perhaps take a bath (it comes with me). But even she has recipes in there that call for flour... rice... and other things I know don't grow in New England. So what is up with the grains? Do we just bypass them for the greater idea that if the other things in our diet are local that is enough? I mean, I can totally do that. I don't mind supporting people who grow large crops of good organic rice, or process whole grains into flour. I feel fine supporting those people. But are there any other ways to get these things? Or just buy organic and hope for the best?

Just my thoughts for the day.

That and a cute picture should do it:


mikesgirl said...

Hi Val - Sorry if I don't comment as much as I should - I read your blog regularly. I just ususally e-mail you if I have a comment because I find it easier than the process to make a comment here. My daughter has been on the "100 mile diet", eating locally for about a year and has been really successful. Her CSA was flooded so that has been a challenge, but she's figuring it all out. Love your blog.

mikesgirl said...

I didn't really comment on your questions about what you do about the grains - my daughter has found some sources of grains that she purchases that are from eastern washington. That's about as close as she can get. What she has trouble with is coffee! But for her it's all about the movement towards eating more locally, not being perfect, just doing the best she can.

Katie said...

Logan is so cute! I read that book, it was great. My goal this summer is do buy local as much as possible....sorry I haven't been commenting, things are hectic getting ready for the baby!!

Val in the Rose Garden said...

Oh you two... I did not mean to make anyone feel guilty about not posting. lol! I promise, I am totally ok with that part. I have been having tons of conversations with myself, (not only on here, but everywhere, yesterday I sat in Starbucks making a list of local things that I COULD get in Jan and decided that Jan is not the time to start this. lol...)

Mikesgirl... does she go through Boistfort Valley too? Becuase my CSA was flooded as well. :) There is a benifit for them on Feb 1st at Eastside Tavern at 9pm. Hopefully they will be ok, if not, I am going to call my friend who owns Kirsop Farms and see if I can get in with them... although I am sure a lot of people are doing that...

Katie... BABY! Of course you are preoccupied. How could you be any less? {{{hugs}}}


erika~ the inspired mama said...

great book! i have read it twice already~ all of barbara kingsolver's work has a special place on my book shelf and this one is no exception!

your little guy is adorable... and getting so big so fast!!

take care!

Marlene Dotterer said...

Hi Valerie,

I eat locally as much as I can. I think the general idea is to do what's possible, by eating in season and buying whatever is grown in your area.

I've started thinking about "trade" and about how trade has always been part of the human experience. Probably when we were proto-humans we were bringing the yummy nuts that grew in our area over the folks in the next canyon, because the nuts didn't grow there and they loved to eat them! And in return, they'd give us the salt that lay deep in their caves.

So in a way, buying the organic whole grains, or maple syrup, or coffee, from somewhere else, is just a continuation of this ancient human practice.

Where we've screwed it up, is in letting it become centralized, big, and impersonal. We now expect all foods to be available all year for us, no matter how far the food has to travel. And we don't offer anything in return, except for a little money and a lot of environmental degradation.

We've lost the personal element, too. Ancient trading was a social event, with disparate cultures taking the chance to share history, lifestyles, cooking and farming techniques... all kinds of things.

We still don't have a way of doing that: I have no idea who grows and harvests my maple syrup. The best we can do is try to find out about a specific company and get to know them and support them. Most organic companies are more open to this kind of thing, than say, Con Agra, would be.

So make a list of the things you know you need, but that you can't get locally. Some research might reveal a source you didn't know about, but in general, I don't think you should feel bad about buying them. If you can get 70-90% of your family's food from a local source, you're doing great!

Val in the Rose Garden said...

I agree... yet another thread I have started on this topic went to trade and how we have traded for hundreds of years with China for spices, etc. Like you said, it was so much more personal before we added it to our consumer ideal. Now it has been reduced to greed, and even worse, indifferance and ignorance.

There is a happy medium in most processes that we tend to take on as a race. Going so far into something that you start requesting unrealistic ideals of oneself is how we make sure we are doing the best we can. I am slowly finding a happy medium... but it will take a while.

So far, by the end of this year, I will be buying my beef and pork from local sources. I have my chickens for eggs, and I want to reduce our meat consumption by half... which means a lot of experiments in cooking (I eat tons of veggie meals, but the family? Not so much... at least not happily).

Anyway... it all takes time. Thanks so much for your comments and your advice. It's good stuff. :)


Katie said...

I am reading Animal, Vegetable, Mineral right now as well. Pete and I are doing the local challenge starting next month, if I ever have time to blog (lol) I am going to post about how we do it.
We have found local sources for almost everything (minus coffee, olive oil etc) Would love to talk more about this with you!

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