Lately, the big buzz is about eating local. So what does that mean exactly and why should you?
LocalHarvest.org says it best:
Most produce in the US is picked 4 to 7 days before being placed on supermarket shelves, and is shipped for an average of 1500 miles before being sold. And this is when taking into account only US grown products! Those distances are substantially longer when we take into consideration produce imported from Mexico, Asia, Canada, South America, and other places.
We can only afford to do this now because of the artificially low energy prices that we currently enjoy, and by externalizing the environmental costs of such a wasteful food system. We do this also to the detriment of small farmers by subsidizing large scale, agribusiness-oriented agriculture with government handouts and artificially cheap energy.
Cheap oil will not last forever though. World oil production has already peaked, according to some estimates, and while demand for energy continues to grow, supply will soon start dwindling, sending the price of energy through the roof. We’ll be forced then to reevaluate our food systems and place more emphasis on energy efficient agricultural methods, like smaller-scale organic agriculture, and on local production wherever possible.
Cheap energy and agricultural subsidies facilitate a type of agriculture that is destroying and polluting our soils and water, weakening our communities, and concentrating wealth and power into a few hands. It is also threatening the security of our food systems, as demonstrated by the continued e-Coli, GMO-contamination, and other health scares that are often seen nowadays on the news.
These large-scale, agribusiness-oriented food systems are bound to fail on the long term, sunk by their own unsustainability. But why wait until we’re forced by circumstance to abandon our destructive patterns of consumption? We can start now by buying locally grown food whenever possible. By doing so you’ll be helping preserve the environment, and you’ll be strengthening your community by investing your food dollar close to home. Only 18 cents of every dollar, when buying at a large supermarket, go to the grower. 82 cents go to various unnecessary middlemen. Cut them out of the picture and buy your food directly from your local farmer.
WOW! I emphasized that last sentence. I knew, and you probably did too, the general idea, but I never knew the money figure.
We have tried, in the past, to sell to markets. Typically they will only give us half the cost of what they sell the veggies for and because we are not certified organic, even though we grow like we are, we only get prices for non-organic veggies. That’s one of the reasons why we decided to become a CSA and sell directly to the customer.
Working the farm as a CSA is a lot more work than packing everything up and selling it to a store or restaurant, that’s for sure. But if we did that we’d miss out on so much; we love our shareholders and we meet the most interesting people; we see how appreciative our shareholders are and how much they love the veggies; we get to share gardening and recipes, tips and they share with us and it’s just more fun.
Bottom line: Michael Pollan says we have 3 chances a day to vote with our fork, and by doing so we support our local farmers, make new friends, try new veggies and eat better, more nutritious food. Vote today!