Saturday, June 09, 2007

Eat Locally or Comfortably?

Once again the AW blog chain is rolling and I've been tagged. In the last post in the chain, Williebee writes about his experiences living in Alaska as a boy and how that has helped give him an appreciation of his current comfortable lifestyle.

Growing up in the California 'burbs didn't really expose me to any particular hardships. It's only with age that I've come to realize how good I've had it. Here I live, on the edge of the desert, and I not only have easy access to water, but I can go to my local supermarket and buy freshwater salmon or blueberries, neither of which grow nearby. But recent news of tainted food additives from China and my own mental ruminations on the American food industry (based, in part on reading this excerpt from The Omnivore's Dilemma) has made me start considering more seriously the downside to my comfortable lifestyle, food-wise at least.

I know that it would be better for the environment (and probably our health) we'd live on local food (preferably heirloom varieties) organically grown on small farms. The truth is, though, that I'm not sure I'm willing to go far out of my comfort zone to do that. I do buy most of my produce from the local green grocer and I'm trying to cut down on the amount of processed foods we eat. But, honestly, I'm not sure I'm willing to completely give up bread and pasta, and organically grown eggs and meats are usually pretty expensive. Not to mention the fact that a purely local diet would require preparing almost everything from scratch, something I don't always have the time and energy to do.

I realize that it's people like me, unwilling to give up my cheap and easy eating habits, that are a big part of the problem. I selfishly place my own comfort above global concerns. All I can say is that I'm trying to do better.

That ends the 9th AW Blog Chain. Be sure to read all the posts:
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Blogger Williebee said...

I'm all about the local food markets. Problem is "local" means 70 miles away. Still, the Soulard Market in St. Louis is a delightful way to spend the morning, and the meals during the week after make it well worth the trip!

10:02 PM  
Blogger -Kelly M. said...

There's a wonderful fruit and veggie stand just a few miles from here. Great selection, decent prices. I much prefer supporting the local farmers than buying from the grocery. Somehow tomatoes are always sweeter, and the berries are riper.

9:45 AM  
Blogger cath said...

One thing I miss from Scotland, the local organic produce. Now I try to grow my own, but like you say, it's hard work.

We live in an age of convenience, sometimes it's just easier to let it slide. :)

10:43 AM  
Anonymous andrea peck said...

Nice post. I agree, it is very difficult to move from our own inertia to do what is 'right.' I find myself constantly frustrated with trying to ride the bike more instead of wasting gas. I try to buy local (we have a farmer's market on Mondays) but it seems that my eyes are always bigger than our needs and food goes to waste. Now, I am trying a compost bin...we'll see what I can accomplish there!

11:57 AM  
Blogger Peggy said...

williebee: 70 miles is a long way to go to get produce! You definitely need to make a day of it if you are traveling that far.

kelly m: Tomatoes are one of those veggies (fruits?) that I almost never buy at the regular supermarket. They are blemish free and red, but they have no flavor at all. I don't care if they don't look perfect; flavor is what I'm looking for.

cath: I grow a bit of my own too - tomatoes and cucumbers this year. But it is harder work than just driving to the store.

andrea: I used to have the same problem with buying too much produce. It turns out that a lot of veggies freeze nicely. I just cut them up and blanch them - a couple of minutes in boiling water - drain them and let them dry, then pack them into freezer bags. It works great for green beans, broccoli and cauliflower. Cut up strawberries (sugared a bit) also freeze nicely and are very good on ice cream. Frozen grapes are a nice treat when it's hot out too.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Crabby McSlacker said...

This is a great reminder--but I'm bad about it. I buy local when it's easy (we've got a great farmers market nearby on Sundays), but if there are blueberries from Canada or blackberries from Mexico sitting there at the market and berries aren't in season here? I buy 'em if I feel like berries. Hard to balance nutrition/convenience/sustainability all the time; sometimes I compromise.

Great post!

12:45 PM  
Blogger Virginia Lee said...

Excellent as always, Peggy. I am happy to be getting our diet back to more whole foods. When recovering from pelvic radiation I had to eat pretty much only well-processed food. So much so I tended to refer to it as pre-digested. Get shed of those processed foods, woman! I promise, you'll feel so much better and your immune system will LOVE you. :)

10:08 PM  
Anonymous Gillian said...

Decisions sometimes have to be taken every single day, don't they?

3:59 AM  
Blogger Harbormaster said...

Thanks for finishing up the chain. There is a move afoot to promote local food markets. Doesn't work too well here, but a great idea in more populated area. I've been known to ship fish south to trade for sweet corn and tamales. We put a lot of food away every summer, but not much produce.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Peggy said...

Crabby: I think at least being aware of the fact you are compromising is a step in the right direction. It's so easy just to buy without thinking.

Virginia: You're right. I always feel a bit crappy after eating processed junk, especially if it has a lot of sugar in it.

Harbormaster: It's definitely an easier proposition to eat local here in California than in Alaska. A lot of our fish actually comes from your part of the world.

2:11 PM  

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