Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Local Food Will Change Your Life

This was the tag-line to a meeting I attended last fall.  It was to be a meeting of the minds in order to brainstorm ideas for getting more local food to more local people. The plan was to meet and discuss and meet and discuss ad infinitum  how the current model could be changed and the local folks could feel good about their local food choices and everyone could have LOCAL food ALL the time.
(Okay, I exggerated some...and added the ad infinitum part...but, it certainly seemed that way.)

My life has revolved around food, LOCAL food, for a long time.  You might want to read this. For the record, I have read all the trendy books on the subject, too. I have even suffered through a good number of the films on the subject. Fact is, I don't believe 100% LOCAL is a viable option.

I find the trendy hyper-focus on LOCAL by turn amusing, frustrating and just plain silly. At the same time, I truly appreciate all the folks who are willing to buy the farm products that the Boss and I produce…that have paid the bills around here and kept us running in “the black” (mostly)  for well over fifteen years. This puts me in an odd and somewhat awkward position from time to time…to say the least. But, when these folks attempt to fully embrace ALL-LOCAL…they totally miss out on the practicalities. There are many trade-offs to a LOCAL lifestyle.

I realize that it is common myth that “you can have it all”, but…in reality, you can NOT.

In order to be truly LOCAL, many, MANY changes must be made. It would indeed change your life. But, not necessarily in the ways that one might expect.
Food production or procurement,  preservation and preparation would become the focus of life.   Free time for hobbies and recreation would become a thing of the past. And forget about travel...

There are certain things that will NOT grow in parts of the world and other things that will NOT grow at certain times of the year…and the whole LOCAL thing doesn’t necessarily mean “green, sustainable, and ORGANIC” when you consider everything involved to grow things LOCALLY where they wouldn't thrive naturally. (a subject for another time, no doubt)

A truly LOCAL diet is actually quite limiting in many ways. Food choices and availability are something we have come to take for granted in our global community. Short of totally changing one’s diet, certain concessions or exceptions to the truly LOCAL diet must be made. (personally, I think that the exceptions negate the experiment, but…whatever…) If dietary changes are not made, then a completely new infrastructure must be established.  The infrastructure would require a change in the carbon footprint of the operation, not to mention a change of the landscape. These changes don’t come cheaply, nor are they very "green" or in many cases, sustainable.

No, a lifestyle change demands a great deal of investment, both of one’s time and income. I know, from vast personal experience, that eating locally takes a LOT of time...a whole lot of time. 

Time is one NON-renewable resource that is limited for each and every one of us.  It may, or may NOT, be a priority to spend hours/days sourcing food and then further hours/days preparing said food. …and it is up to the individual to make that decision.  No one should be able to dictate how another spends his or her non-renewable resource of time.  ...and I'm not even going to get into a discussion of  income!

Personally, I do NOT think that it should be the focus and desire of every community across the nation to be self-sufficient and reliant only on what is produced in their locality. Year-round LOCAL eating takes an incredible amount of work and planning on the part of everyone involved.   Costly changes to present infrastructure wouldn't necessarily guarantee food security or a booming economy.

Community participation is always spotty at best, how in the world would anyone dictate food preservation?...and has anyone given thought to who would grow all this local food?  ...and where? Or how it would get to the populace? Would someone teach the masses what to do with their LOCAL food once it had been procured?

 If WE were attempt to rely solely on what is produced locally without some serious work and planning during harvest season, we would either starve (we have a LIMITED growing season) lose our minds (coffee and chocolate are NOT indigenous) or face riot (again…coffee and chocolate…). None of those options sound too pleasant.  Then, there is the whole issue of scurvy in the wintertime…

I can honestly say…Been There…Done That…on the subject of a LOCAL diet.  Did you read this? Nothing compares with the taste of fresh and local (and seasonally…it is THE BEST!) …but, then again…just satisfying that hunger at the end of the day…providing sustenance for my family (and others)…keeping within the budget…and meeting dietary requirements are all good things, too! I would never assume that I knew the best choice for absolutely everyone in our area when it comes to food (or anything else, really).

I love what I do…and I will be the first to tell you that there is NOTHING to compare with a tomato fresh from the backyard garden or a peach straight from a tree in your own orchard…

...now, THAT is LOCAL!

LOCAL is definitely best.
(in some cases)

LOCAL is the best choice if you want the freshest seasonal produce possible.  LOCAL is the best choice if you want to forge a real relationship with the farmer who grows your food.  LOCAL is the best choice if you want/need to know exactly how or where your food was grown.


…LOCAL should not be just another status symbol to prove that you’re cool and trendy. It is not possible to have LOCAL everything, nor should it be attempted.  100% LOCAL should not be the ultimate goal of every community everywhere.

It should be a choice…not a mandate. 

                                     ...because it WILL change your life.

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