It has been extremely inspiring to see the surge of interest and advocacy for local and organic food. Yet, at the same time it seems there are those that are taking advantage and we all perhaps need to extend our education to include boundaries as to what we will and will not accept.
Sunflowers keep watch over a field of organic veggies at Sport Hill Farm in Easton, CT.
Everyone with something food-related to sell seems to want to jump on the “local food” bandwagon and I have to admit I am finding it a little tiring. It seems that the more progress we make the more the reality of what is out there can be called into question.
I feel that our food should be grown locally and organically as much as possible. But I also think that the philosophy behind the way things used to be – that food just WAS local and organic by virtue of it being called food – has been lost in some pockets of our society.
All the hoopla – the advertising dollars – are kind of working against a return to a simpler and more wholesome time for our food and our way of living. In my opinion anyway.
But there are things we can do to keep the “spin” positive!
1. Always ask how a store or restaurant defines “local.”
For some it means within a set number of miles, others define it as statewide while still others will say “local” when what they really mean is “regional” – as in, say, within the northeast of North America.
2. Keep in mind the number of days – and miles – it took for the food to get to your plate.
It’s nice to believe that a farmer took his sack of potatoes straight from the farm to the “local food” bin at your nearby supermarket. But the reality is it might very well have first gone to a distribution center many miles away.
So, while the farm the food came from might be a mere ten miles away the food might first have traveled hundreds of miles – over a period of a number of days.
3. Know your farmer – and his or her food
Some farms will buy food from someplace else to sell at their market. A lot of farms do it to enhance their selection and will clearly label which food is from where.
The ones you have to look out for are those that claim all the food is theirs yet it seems really unlikely if you think about it. These are the small farms that always seem to have a steady stream of “their” products but you have no idea where that food comes from.
4. Let your taste buds and belly be the judges
Now that I am used to local and organic food I can tell the difference. Fresh food has flavor and fills you up pretty quickly.
Let yourself really notice what you are eating. Good food does not need a lot of sauces or seasoning.
5. Ask how seriously a farmers market researches the source of its vendors’ food
Believe it or not, some “farmers” at the markets buy food at a supermarket and then sell it at farmers markets for a premium.
6. Start your own garden
Growing even just a few things on your own will help make your family healthier. It will also make your taste buds used to real food. And, it will decrease our dependence on energy to transport food.
Also, it will make you more self-sufficient!
7. Use your common sense
We as a society are being told things all the time and are expected to take them as truth. Sadly, not everyone is telling the truth.
8. Care about where your food originates
I think as a society how many friends we have on Facebook should be a lot lower on the priority list than where our food comes from – but I get the impression that is not the case.
9. Do some research
It is actually kind of fun to recognize how many choices we have. Ask around, use the Internet.
10. Just keep asking and thinking