Going Local

August 3, 2011

I’ve been meaning to write about a great program that the Boulder Farmers’ Market and Transition Colorado are sponsoring called the Local Food Shift 10% Pledge.  But I read such a wonderful write-up of the program on What’s Cooking in Boulder, that I’ll direct you there to read about the specifics, to LocalFoodShift to sign up, and just add my thoughts here.  I signed up on this site last week.  It’s really not difficult at all to buy 10% of your food locally during the summer – even if you don’t shop at the Farmers’ Market or get your produce at a local farm stand.  At least in most Boulder grocery stores, there are signs marking where the produce is from, and if there aren’t, there are often twist ties or stickers or something labelling place of origin.  Winter is a little more difficult of course, and I haven’t dived into the canning world yet.  But I figure if right now I am buying 40-50% of my food locally, and I do that throughout the harvest months, for a full year I’m going to average over 10%.

So why should you go to the trouble of searching out local food?  I’ve mentioned in previous posts how it definitely tastes better – less transportation, less storage, less time the food has to sit there, so it’s fresher.  That also usually results in more flavorful varieties that can’t make the long haul to far away destinations.  In and of itself, that’s a good enough reason if you like tastier food.  But there’s also the part about knowing where your food comes from. At the Farmers’ Market or at farm stands, you actually get to meet the people that work the farm.  You can ask them questions about their farming practices, or any number of other things.  And I like supporting local businesses.  Even if you get things from the grocery store, if the produce is labelled with the farm name, you can do some research into the farm itself.

The same reasoning applies to locally raised meat as well. I would rather know that the chicken I am eating is from a local farm whose chickens are allowed to roam around farm fields, than have it be from some poor animal with its beak removed, crowded in an area so small that it can’t move or even breathe.  Speaking of knowing where your food comes from, there was a part of Eric Schlosser’s book Fast Food Nation where he talks about that fact that a burger from a fast food restaurant is most likely from multiple cows. Something about that just grosses me out.

Another pretty compelling reason for buying as much as you can locally is just the amount of oil used in the transportation of products over great distances, and the effect of that on the Earth.  I won’t go into any eco-rants about that, but I think it’s important. And yes, each individual is just a tiny drop in the bucket in terms of this savings.  But when you get 10 of your friends to take this into consideration, that’s 10 drops, and if they do the same, it spreads and could perhaps get to the point where it does have an effect.  That’s part of why I’m an avid recycler and composter.  Even if there is still a lot of groundfill going into dumps which will never degrade, I feel good about the fact that my compost and recycling carts weigh 10 times more than my trash cart when I take it out to the curb.  I was thrilled when curbside composting was introduced in Boulder.  I love that all of the peels, seeds, and scraps from my produce go into composting.  When the farmer hosting the Farm Dinner we went to in June told us that they brought in something like 40 trucks of compost each year, it made me very happy that I could in fact be contributing to that!

One of the things I really like about the Local Food Shift 10% Pledge, is that they say that they think local is whatever I think is local.  Which is wonderful, because this means that I can include packaged products which were made locally. I’m sure that a lot of the raw materials for these products are brought in from other places, but by purchasing things made in Colorado, or even better, in Boulder, I am cutting out the second leg of transportation for the product.  So I can feel good about purchasing products from local companies like ChocoloveHaystack Mountain Goat DairyNoosa YoghurtRudi’s Organic BakeryFalafel KingCelestial SeasoningsOlomomo Nuts, and Glacier Homemade Ice Cream (and Gelato!), just to name my current favorites.

So take a few minutes to go check out LocalFoodShift, and hopefully register!

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