Posted by: A Part of the Solution | April 2, 2011

Walking the Locavore Talk

These days, people are becoming interested in, not to say concerned over, where their food is coming from. People are beginning to understand our food supply system, nationwide and coast-to-coast, has become something of Frankenstein monster: too big and too unwieldy and too lowest-common-denominator to be managed well or trusted completely. Further, people are beginning to realize that getting on their bike to run errands and turning down the thermostat a few degrees may not be enough to shrink their carbon footprint to a manageable level. Hence  the growing Locavore movement.

So how do we proceed toward our desired carbon footprint path across the arc of our lives? How can regular people (not reality TV specimens) make a real difference through their daily choices? I believe it begins with the household budget. Lately, there’s been a lot in the news about the rising cost of staple foods and groceries in general. While this is true, persons in Indonesia spend about half their annual income on food. In China, the figure is close to thirty percent of their income. In America, that number has RISEN to 13.4%; largely because we eat out so much.

Let’s just come right out and say it: real food costs real money. It’s ironic to contemplate the price at the register of foods grown without USDA subsidies to boost their bottom line. Yes, we’re all ‘paying’ for those USDA programs whether we make use of their end products or not. It’s a fact. But committing our resources to eating fresher food, grown responsibly by farmers with faces instead of name brands, is a necessary first step. And an investment in our long-term health.

If you eat meat, remember pastured animal flesh has four times the volume of Omega-3s as CAFO meat. Pastured animals provide double the amounts of Vitamins E and D. Their CLA and ALA values are triple those of commercially raised feedlot meat. Pastured chickens produce eggs similarly high in difficult-to-source essential fatty acids, and Vitamins E and D. Organically produced fruits and vegetables tend to have a higher nutritional value than their commercially grown counterparts. They don’t spoil as quickly, so we have longer to store and then use them. And the sooner after harvest the consumer receives the produce, the more nutritious it is. So there are immediate benefits to choosing locally grown foods as well as long-term benefits to our ongoing health and soundness.

Is it worth the effort to track down locally ground grains from smaller mills? Yes, clearly it is. Is it a good return on the investment of time to track down locally produced maple syrup and honey? Of course. Would it be to our benefit to commit more and more of our pantry space as well as our fridge space to foods grown and processed in our specific bio-region? You bet: from carbon footprint to nutrient content indicators are solidly pro-local.

And the more people demand locally grown foods and pasture raised meat and eggs, the more affordable such foods will become for everyone–not just the foodie elite. Do your part, shop with a local bias and ask your shopkeeper to consider bringing in locally produced versions of your favorite pantry staples.

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Responses

  1. You go girl. I’m trying to pay more attention.

    • It’s not easy to get stores not already on the bandwagon to go there. I was shocked (shocked!) to discover that the freeze-dried green beans I bought at the local natural food store the other day were from VIETNAM–how is it sound (let alone sane) to transship a green bean 16 time zones?


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