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How to Eat Local
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  • How to Eat Local

    Post #1 - July 31st, 2007, 8:53 am
    Post #1 - July 31st, 2007, 8:53 am Post #1 - July 31st, 2007, 8:53 am
    [Note, I'm not in the habit (these days) of cross-posting between my blog and LTHForum. For the most part, I have an eating out/eating in distiction. What I do at home goes on the blog; when I eat out, it goes here. The blog's about eating local. As I have noted before, Chicago's Green City Market is promoting an Eat Local Challenge, with sign-up starting on August 1. I hope many LTHForum participants take up the challenge. To help, I'm cross-posting these tips on how to eat local. I would to hear from others on how they eat local and share in their tips.]

    The Basics

    Tomorrow starts the sign-up for the Eat Local Challenge being encouraged by Chicago's Green City Market. I believe the actual Challenge is in September. I want to do my part in getting participation. Take an Eat Local holiday. You may not look back. A week or so ago, I posted some tips on how to eat local. Then, I realized the tips were a bit short of the practical. Those tips were better suited for someone already wading. What about someone still on the beach? Over a series of posts, I'll provide what I see as the basics on how to eat local.

    The Eat Local plunge requires three pools: what's local; what's available local and where can I find what's local and available. The questions revolve around each other, but have to start with the parameter of what the heck do I mean when I mean local. How do you (or we) define local food. From what area can I get my food, so that the food would be considered local. Where is the wall that keeps in my local food and excludes all traf. Eating local is about eating food within this zone. There is, however, no church of local (or localvore). Define you locality as you want.

    A hundred mile boundary is certainly used. See here to get an idea of what are falls within your 100 mile diet area. Your local does not have to be 100 miles. If you live in the Chicago area, you may find that a good portion of your 100 miles is lake water. Do you want that. Local could mean just eating food grown in Chicago. That's possible if limited with Growing Power and City Farm and honey made in Garfield Park. You could fish the waters, although you could not find the same in any store. Your local can be your state, or it can be your region. I go for the last. I take an expansive view of local. I consider local any food grown, harvested or reared in the states that about comprise the Big 10 Conference. That is, for me, local includes Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan.

    Grown, harvested, reared--what about made, manufactured or produced. Tricky. Most soft drinks are made with high fructose corn syrup derived with Big 10 corn, local? Mars candy? Generally, for me, local production is not enough. I'm looking at the ingredients. Still, as I say a lot, I am realistic. My family is finding more and more local grains, and I think we will be making uset, but our pasta and bread is generally not made with local ingredients. We do seek out local producers of these things (if possible).

    Define your local. Know where you can get food, and it will be possible to know what food is available. Likewise, know what is your local and you can be more comfortable with you exceptions. As I also like to say, I'm a believer in the don't make yourself nuts school of eating local. Use salt damn it (your body needs it) and pepper and whatever other spices you need to make your food taste good. Drink wine, coffee, pop. Eat bread, rice or pasta. Be comfortable with your exceptions because it makes your commitment that much more real.
    Last edited by Vital Information on August 1st, 2007, 7:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #2 - July 31st, 2007, 6:04 pm
    Post #2 - July 31st, 2007, 6:04 pm Post #2 - July 31st, 2007, 6:04 pm
    Vital Information wrote:Where is the wall that keeps in my local food and excludes all traf.

    I like this use of traif. Is it your own or is it common within the "Eat Local" movement?
  • Post #3 - August 1st, 2007, 7:54 am
    Post #3 - August 1st, 2007, 7:54 am Post #3 - August 1st, 2007, 7:54 am
    LAZ wrote:
    Vital Information wrote:Where is the wall that keeps in my local food and excludes all traf.

    I like this use of traif. Is it your own or is it common within the "Eat Local" movement?


    Good question. I, obviously no? use the word a bit half-heartedly.

    As I am a solitary practitioner more than a coven member, I cannot speak that much for others. I will say that when the Eatlocalchallenge.com blog began, we were all discussing our exceptions. So, aside from some book writers, I know of no 100 mile purists.

    Still, the implication of the word traif has some meaning for me. I have found that I don't like eating non-local food. Quickly, I eat local for three reasons: taste, environment and respect for tradition/history/growers. Of these, the first was my prime motivation, and it is the one I most think about (obviously!).

    It is hard now to eat a starchy white strawberry, a hard baseball tomato. Few steaks match up to the organic 1/2 cow residing in my freezer. It's not just apple to apple. A supermarket buyer won't find the transparents that made outstanding apple sauce in our house; they won't be able to try the range of potatoes I can. Now, I know that there are many wonderful products from outside this region, say good cheeses, but I there are so many great cheeses from within this region, why bother when I have yet come close to getting my fill of local cheese. Same goes for beer, as I mentioned in Hat's Give 'em New Beer thread. There are so many outstanding local beers from the Big Ten area, why stray. I really believe that one eats best when one eats local. That one can eat so well and also be a "good citizen", well, does not it make the food taste even better. See why it can be a sin?

    I should also add, perhaps apparent by my postings, that the VI family eats out much less than we used to. We do this mainly because we are always flush with food from our CSA, our freezer and our market expeditions. We do willingly eat non-local food when out, but so many restaurants cannot compete with what we have in-house. Sometimes it seems like it's Vie or nothing.

    Again, I'm no absolutist and I'm hardly aware of any. When I stray, I look for things that really matter to me, that cannot be obtained local. Also, as I have mentioned before, I really try to limit myself to products that travel or are supposed, take canned tuna for instance. I bought avocados last week. I don't do it too often, a few times a year, but avocados are a good traveler, one of the few fruits that needs to be off-plant to ripen. More importantly, I had other great ingredients, tomatoes, peppers around that just needed the avocado. I do what I can.
  • Post #4 - August 1st, 2007, 9:36 am
    Post #4 - August 1st, 2007, 9:36 am Post #4 - August 1st, 2007, 9:36 am
    Have you signed up for the Green City Market Eat Local Challenge?

    Good. You want to know what you will be eating while you are eating local. As I noted in this thread above, what you can eat depends on how you draw your circle of local. On the other hand, maybe you wanted to know what was there before drawing your circle. Chicago sits in the middle of prime farm country. Thick black prairie soil brought people here. Wet springs and hot dry summers make for good fruits and vegetables. Except for those plants that cannot take a freeze, it nearly all grows around here. From varying distances from where you live, you will find farmers that milk cows (and goats), raise goats, pigs, lamb, cows, turkeys, chickens, trout; sell eggs, make cheese, smoke fish. Grains grow abundantly (for sure), but usable grains are a bit trickier. The Great Lakes are still fished. You can find whitefish, trout (now out of season), pike in stores. No almonds but hickory nuts and butternuts can still be tracked down, and walnuts, no English but the much more exquisite if so burdensome black are here. Cook with available lard or butter if you are a zealot. You will not starve.

    There are vegetable farms inside the Chicago city limits. You will find mostly greens (including lettuce) and tomatoes from these farms. If you are a Chicagovore, however, I think that's about all you can eat unless you have a fishing pole. The 100 mile diet brings in most of the area farmers who show at local markets. You can get a huge array of vegetables from Nicholl's Farm in Marengo, Illinois; Genesis Growers in St. Anne, Illinois; and Green Acres Farm in North Judson, Indiana, but you will miss out on Henry's Farm in Congerville, Illinois. Some of these farms also sell fruit including apples, berries and melons. More fruit comes from the farms in Southwest Michigan: cherries, peaches and other stone fruit especially. Meats, cheese, dairy may be found with this limitation, Heartland Meats, available at many farmers markets fits within the 100 mile barrier, but many others do not such as Wettstein's Organic Farms. If you choose to go 100 miles, your options are limited.

    You could do pretty well on an Illinois only diet. You can even look downstate for peaches. You have some cheese, including the outstanding Prairie Fruits Farm, and other dairy including Oberweiss (if politics allow). Better milk (in more ways) comes from Oak Grove Dairy (available at Fox & Obel). There's some wine but better beer, even vodka and gin. Still, to really take advantage of local, do like me and take an expansive view. I love-love Prairie Fruits Farm, but no goat cheese I have ever tried is as good as Fantome Farm in Ridgeway, Wisconsin. We are blessed with quality products all over our place. Stone ground grains in Indiana, Minnesota wild rice, outstanding hams both the raw and the cooked, farm raised trout. Maple syrup and sorghum is widely produced. The Indiana persimmon, on our far fringe is a truly special fruit, something only a localvore can eat. There will be many good things to eat on your Eat Local diet.

    Next: Good things to eat now!
    Last edited by Vital Information on August 1st, 2007, 10:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #5 - August 1st, 2007, 10:31 am
    Post #5 - August 1st, 2007, 10:31 am Post #5 - August 1st, 2007, 10:31 am
    The beer issue raises a question I was wondering about. What "counts" as local for beer? Is it any locally brewed beer? Or only beer brewed locally with local ingredients? I really don't know much about whether the hops, barley, etc. that are used in brewing are typically locally grown or imported.

    (VI -- I think your vodka and gin link mistakenly goes to the trout farm.)
  • Post #6 - August 1st, 2007, 10:42 am
    Post #6 - August 1st, 2007, 10:42 am Post #6 - August 1st, 2007, 10:42 am
    I know that Wisconsin is a major source for domestic malted barley, Briess being a significant producer. Hops will grow almost anywhere, but about 75% of commercial domestic hops come from the Yakima Valley in Washington. I'm not aware of any local brewers who use local hops, but if someone else does (maybe that hop-growin' beer expert d4v3), I'd love to hear about it.
  • Post #7 - August 1st, 2007, 11:02 am
    Post #7 - August 1st, 2007, 11:02 am Post #7 - August 1st, 2007, 11:02 am
    Matt wrote:The beer issue raises a question I was wondering about. What "counts" as local for beer? Is it any locally brewed beer? Or only beer brewed locally with local ingredients? I really don't know much about whether the hops, barley, etc. that are used in brewing are typically locally grown or imported.

    (VI -- I think your vodka and gin link mistakenly goes to the trout farm.)


    Fixed the North Shore Distillery link. Another local distillery is D'Vine in Michigan, BTW. They make vodka from Michigan grapes.

    Anyways, I agree that the ingredients in local beer may not be all local, especially the hops. There is Capital Brewery's Island Wheat that makes a fetish out of its localness, and I believe Capital has some other beers with Wisconsin grown hops. For me, local, happily, includes local breweries even if the ingredients come from afar. As I have said, I don't think there is a right answer.
  • Post #8 - August 1st, 2007, 11:33 am
    Post #8 - August 1st, 2007, 11:33 am Post #8 - August 1st, 2007, 11:33 am
    VI--

    If your 100 mile rule is defined by a circle with Chicago at its center and a radius of 100m, then I'd think there's actually much more, especially in Michigan and NW Indiana than you are giving yourself credit for. If you mean 100 mile drive, then I can see the point (do local small-time, family and/or organic farmers really truck to Chicago?), but don't agree with the conclusion. The farmers at our farmers' markets (downtown at least) are overwhelmingly from MI and NW IN, right at the cusp of 100 mile drive, but mostly several miles past that (yet well within the 100 m circle). Chicago is the closest large city, so a 2 or 2.5 hour drive is no problem. Looking at it from the opposite point of view, at least 3 Chicago tortillerias consider the same areas in MI and NW IN local enough to justify twice-daily deliveries to the bodegas serving the ag workers picking the local stuff out there. Doesn't get much more local and time-sensitive than fresh corn tortillas.

    So, local could include a place lousy with asparagus, artichokes, berries, etc. And pigs and cows for that matter.

    Which is a good opening to vouch strongly for Roseland Organic Farms in Cassopolis. http://www.roselandorganicfarms.com/

    They are certified organic beef producers (along with fruits and vegetables, including the indigenous paw paw) who have just branched out into pork. Earlier this summer I had the good fortune to secure what I understand to be the farm's first (sold) pig. We cooked it over local maple and cherry in a NC-style pit. It was really very good, particularly with an ice-cold Bell's Oberon draft from the keg. I was lucky to have PIGMON and Trixie join in. This all happened in Dowagiac, MI, so it was eating (and drinking) local by any standard. But it could have happened here, too. By the way, there are other swell organic farms out there, and a good resource for contact info is on the Journeyman cafe site, where they provide links to their own local sources.

    But back to the point, I'm with you on the flavor point. This pig was just the right size for a July BBQ and had been on the farm eating sunflower seeds three or four days before the event. I love Peoria Packing and have enjoyed meat from them, but there's no comparison. How could there be?
  • Post #9 - August 1st, 2007, 11:57 am
    Post #9 - August 1st, 2007, 11:57 am Post #9 - August 1st, 2007, 11:57 am
    I don't advocate a 100 mile food limit! Anyways, to see what a 100 mile diet looks like, go to my first post in this thread. There is a link to a site that will show you your 100 mile food zone after you put in your zip code.

    I've liked Roseland in the past, they used to sell at Green City, but it's been ages since I've had their stuff. I have not broached the cost issue, and may in a post, but there is surely a cost factor in eating local, especially local meat. I remember the Roseland meats being not that expensive, but about 4 or 5 bucks a pound for burger which aint cheap either. The only way to get local meat at really decent prices (at least around here) is to buy in bulk.
  • Post #10 - August 2nd, 2007, 8:42 am
    Post #10 - August 2nd, 2007, 8:42 am Post #10 - August 2nd, 2007, 8:42 am
    To Eat Local - Don't!

    Did you sign up yesterday at the Green City Market for the Eat Local Challenge? This Eat Local lesson is for all those on the fence, but for all those who have dived in too. My message to you, don't eat local.

    Nah, I'm kidding. I want you to take up the Eat Local Challenge. Reduce the huge amount of miles required to get food to your table. Partake in food grown by farmers you can meet. Reveal in freshness, forgot the noted heirloom tomatoes; can a cucumber really taste like that. Who knew you could enjoy okra. And yes I do like rutabagas (a wrongly maligned vegetable if there ever was one). The last two lessons covered picking your local, defining where your food could come from to be local. It could be your city, your state, 100 miles from where you lived, or your broad region. I'm sorry but, "from the USA", is a bit expansive even for me. Now, before figuring out what you can eat local, figure out what you can eat non-local.

    You cannot eat exclusively from the Chicago area, even for a week. There is no local salt, no local pepper, no local chocolate, hell no local coffee. Many people attempting Eat Local Challenges just give up certain favorites, it's like Lent to them--"damn the headaches, no lattes for me this week." That's fine but, to me, somewhat unnecessary. To me, eating local is about making choices, replacing. Replacing corn so far from the stalk in tastes like ethanol with corn picked nearby; forsaking big-big California peaches for juicy Michigan Red Havens; not having asparagus anymore (unless it's from your freezer) and instead having Blue Lake green beans. Get your eggs from a farmer instead of a multinational entity. Try pastured pork instead of industrial pork. Drink beer brewed in your backyard. That's eating local.

    Will eating local drive you nuts. In Plenty, the couple seeking to eat from only 100 miles commented about how obsessive they had to become. How they drove mile after mile in an effort to reduce their food miles. I'll cover in another lesson sources for eating local, but it is obvious that eating local takes work. The food may not be at your grocery, your meat may be frozen when you want to eat it. Moreover, there may be things local out there that you just cannot get too, like grains. Grains, whoa, even if you have a cache of local wheat, do you have time to bake your own bread? Some of your exceptions are just gonna be the practical.

    Do you want to do all your cooking with lard or butter, more power to ya. I'd still like to use some olive oil. Should you only try the blossoming Midwest wine business. Perhaps, but you may not have a lot to drink. Use fresh herbs. My friend Farmer Vicki at Genesis Growers sells many. She also has an array of hot peppers. Your food will not be bland on local, do you need to forsake the rest of your spice cabinet. I don't. You may be the type that wants a nice piece of halibut. Me, I don't go there, preferring to buy only freshwater fish. Or I do. I have purchased the Whole Foods marinated shrimp skewers. I eat canned tuna, anchovies. I don't fret that every morsel that goes in my mouth does not come from the states around me.

    You should not either. Don't be afraid to be non-local during your Eat Local Challenge. Just think about it. Make mindful choices. Realize the items that matter to you. Then, with the other stuff, go for it. Be like my kidz, never let a whittled away "baby" carrot touch your lips again.
  • Post #11 - August 2nd, 2007, 9:41 am
    Post #11 - August 2nd, 2007, 9:41 am Post #11 - August 2nd, 2007, 9:41 am
    VI, I am wondering why you mentioned replacing asparagus. The asparagus I have bought a few times recently said that it was grown in Michigan, which is well within the Big 10 area.
  • Post #12 - August 2nd, 2007, 10:47 am
    Post #12 - August 2nd, 2007, 10:47 am Post #12 - August 2nd, 2007, 10:47 am
    eggplant wrote:VI, I am wondering why you mentioned replacing asparagus. The asparagus I have bought a few times recently said that it was grown in Michigan, which is well within the Big 10 area.


    As far as I know, the season for local aspragus has long past. I'm gonna cover seasonality in a post soon. Let me just say two things now.

    First, the seasonality around here does not necessarily mimic what you see in books or charts. Take new potatoes, a lot of the cooking seasonal books place new potatoes in the Spring catagory, but if you shop farmers markets, you will know that new potatoes did not arrive until the end of June, summer. Likewise, peas come later here. On the other hand, in the East, their strawberry season seems in bloom now, while ours is mostly over (but for Nicholl's which grows a late blooming variety).

    Second, there is broad variability within our Big 10 area as to what is in season. Door County cherries arrive several weeks after SW Michigan cherries as Michigan asparagus arrives later than Illinois asparagus.

    Participating in the September Eat Local Challenge will require some understanding of what is in season then (a not too difficult undertaking!).
  • Post #13 - August 3rd, 2007, 3:55 pm
    Post #13 - August 3rd, 2007, 3:55 pm Post #13 - August 3rd, 2007, 3:55 pm
    VI, seasonality definitely makes sense, thanks for the tip. I am looking forward to reading your post on seasonality!
  • Post #14 - August 3rd, 2007, 5:17 pm
    Post #14 - August 3rd, 2007, 5:17 pm Post #14 - August 3rd, 2007, 5:17 pm
    Tell Me Already

    If you have not signed up for Chicago's Eat Local Challenge, you can do it tomorrow at the Green City Market. You can draw your foodshed wide. Make exceptions wily-nily. Maybe you are just waiting to hear what you can really eat when you eat local. Fruits, vegetables, meat, chicken, bacon, eggs, herbs, peppers, honey, syrup, beer, wine; does that not sound like dinner. You can spend the whole week eating local cheese (start here). What exactly you eat depends on three things: the markets, shops, stands, CSAs and gardens you can get to; what's in season at these markets, shops, gardens, etc., and what do you have stored away in your freezer, fridge, cellar. When it comes time to eat local for a week in September, what will you eat?

    Let's start with the storage possibility. If you trying to Eat Local all the time, you think a lot about storing your food. You want local food in the many months without farmer's markets. In those months, your local food has to come from your stores, from canning, drying, putting away in a cold room, and especially, freezing. I'm guessing that the planners of this Eat Local Challenge wanted abundant food for this Eat Local Challenge. They probably did not expect you to have to dip into stores at the height of our growing season. Still, you have to ask yourself, will I be able to do all the shopping I need during that week of local. Maybe. Maybe not. It may make lots of sense for you to put some things aside starting now for your Eat Local week in September.

    Where can you get local food. Farmer's markets fer sure. Chicago has many and many good ones. There are several downtown, including decent ones at Federal Plaza on Tuesday and Daley Plaza on Thursday. Drake at the Localvore.org site has a good calender for finding farmer's markets. The Illinois Department of Agriculture produces another good farmer's market directory/calender. The Local Harvest site is a great way for finding not only farmers markets but farm stands and other sources for local food. The problem is, not every farmer's market has everything you need to Eat Local. Do you want to be a vegetarian for the week? Now, both the bi-weekly Green City Market (Wednesday and Saturdays) and Oak Park Farmer's Market have vendors selling meat and eggs to keep your inner Atkin's happy. I know other markets have protein as well, but I cannot necessarily speak to them. Do your due diligence before the challenge starts.

    No farmer's market near you or your hours don't match theirs? It has become more possible than ever to buy local at your grocery. (If fact, NPR notes it as a trend--hat tip to Jen at the Eatlocalchallenge.com site. Jewel and Sunset Foods are advertising their local food in their weekly fliers. Whole Food's has promised local, but 1/2 the time I'm there it never seems beyond burdock root. I was in the Caputo's on Harlem, in Elmwood Park this morning. One could eat decently enough on what they had local: cucumbers, zucchini, corn, two types of Michigan apples, two types of Wisconsin potatoes, Indiana onions, peaches, muskmelons, blueberries, milk.

    Milk, that's the thing, until this year Green City had local milk. Now they do not. I'm not aware of any one stop for all your Eat Local needs. Caputo's may have got you as far as your weekly chicken dinner, but did they give you a chicken. You could go down the street to Kolatek's, one of my favorite Polish stores. They had Amish chickens from Indiana. Eating local means you can't slow down.

    It also means you have to know what's in season. When you eat local you either eat what's in the ground now or what's in your storage now. Early September, when the Eat Local Challenge starts, you will have plenty to choose. Here's a small shapshot of what you may find. Here's another. You should be awash in apples. About the only major local food that may not have arrived for your challenge are the local papples.

    A lot of the fun, the challenge in the challenge is the search and the creation. I don't know what exactly you will find local in September. You probably will not either. Tomatoes, eggplants, peaches, plums, bell peppers for sure, but what else? How long has it been since you tried local grapes. Do you remember grapes with seeds? Follow the lead of David "Hat" Hammond who has documented some of his Eat Local discoveries. Try new foods, new dishes. However you define your local, whatever exceptions you grant yourself, you will find plenty of things to eat during the Eat Local Challenge. I look forward to hearing how you do. Let me know what else I need to tell you.
  • Post #15 - August 4th, 2007, 5:22 am
    Post #15 - August 4th, 2007, 5:22 am Post #15 - August 4th, 2007, 5:22 am
    Vital Information wrote:You cannot eat exclusively from the Chicago area, even for a week. There is no local salt, no local pepper, no local chocolate, hell no local coffee. Many people attempting Eat Local Challenges just give up certain favorites, it's like Lent to them--"damn the headaches, no lattes for me this week." That's fine but, to me, somewhat unnecessary. To me, eating local is about making choices, replacing.


    VI,

    I appreciate the non-doctrinaire position you're taking. When I was talking to Jains a few weeks ago, there was this young woman who admitted to "consuming" animals (a practice forbidden in Jainism) in the form of "really nice" leather shoes and purses. Now, a severe critic/cynic would castigate this behavior as hypocritical, but I thought of it more in terms of "making choices," doing the good you can do when you feel you can do it. No one's perfect or should try to be; accepting one's limitations seems sensible and more likely to support long-term limited success (though not complete spiritual perfection, which ain't going to happen anyway).

    Aside from the "doing good" aspect of the Eat Local movement, your motivation has always seemed to be primarily aesthetic: local tastes better. This seems an eminently defensible position (not that you need to defend yourself, but I'm sure you get a lot of long stares from people who can't understand why you don't, you know, take advantage of the great prices on Chilean asparagus at Dominick's.)

    Having a garden has been a fabulous way to eat local without even trying…I end up going to the OP Farmer’s Market and buying almost nothing but fruit because I have so much veg in the backyard. Can’t wait for the limas to come in.

    David
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #16 - August 5th, 2007, 10:33 am
    Post #16 - August 5th, 2007, 10:33 am Post #16 - August 5th, 2007, 10:33 am
    David Hammond wrote:
    Vital Information wrote:You cannot eat exclusively from the Chicago area, even for a week. There is no local salt, no local pepper, no local chocolate, hell no local coffee. Many people attempting Eat Local Challenges just give up certain favorites, it's like Lent to them--"damn the headaches, no lattes for me this week." That's fine but, to me, somewhat unnecessary. To me, eating local is about making choices, replacing.


    VI,

    I appreciate the non-doctrinaire position you're taking. When I was talking to Jains a few weeks ago, there was this young woman who admitted to "consuming" animals (a practice forbidden in Jainism) in the form of "really nice" leather shoes and purses. Now, a severe critic/cynic would castigate this behavior as hypocritical, but I thought of it more in terms of "making choices," doing the good you can do when you feel you can do it. No one's perfect or should try to be; accepting one's limitations seems sensible and more likely to support long-term limited success (though not complete spiritual perfection, which ain't going to happen anyway).

    Aside from the "doing good" aspect of the Eat Local movement, your motivation has always seemed to be primarily aesthetic: local tastes better. This seems an eminently defensible position (not that you need to defend yourself, but I'm sure you get a lot of long stares from people who can't understand why you don't, you know, take advantage of the great prices on Chilean asparagus at Dominick's.)

    Having a garden has been a fabulous way to eat local without even trying…I end up going to the OP Farmer’s Market and buying almost nothing but fruit because I have so much veg in the backyard. Can’t wait for the limas to come in.

    David


    While gustatory pleasures drive a lot of my Eat Local desires, they are not my sole motivation. Jen Maiser's written a pretty good summary of why to Eat Local:

    Link
  • Post #17 - August 5th, 2007, 10:41 am
    Post #17 - August 5th, 2007, 10:41 am Post #17 - August 5th, 2007, 10:41 am
    Vital Information wrote:While gustatory pleasures drive a lot of my Eat Local desires, they are not my sole motivation. Jen Maiser's written a pretty good summary of why to Eat Local:

    Link


    I find it interesting that most (6/10) of Maiser's points in favor of eating local are aesthetic:

    Locally grown produce is fresher.
    Local food just plain tastes better.
    Locally grown fruits and vegetables have longer to ripen.
    Buying local food keeps us in touch with the seasons.
    Buying locally grown food is fodder for a wonderful story.
    Local food translates to more variety.

    I think these are all good reasons to eat locally.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #18 - August 6th, 2007, 9:50 am
    Post #18 - August 6th, 2007, 9:50 am Post #18 - August 6th, 2007, 9:50 am
    two recent articles in the NY Times bring another perspective to the idea of eating local:

    "Don't Buy Local!" - Excerpted here
    http://everydayecon.wordpress.com/2007/ ... ocal-myth/
    refuted here
    http://www.ethicurean.com/2007/06/25/why-buy-local/
    (full text of Conniff's article posted in the comments below
    http://www.lawrence.com/blogs/down_eart ... /unclerob/)

    and today "Food that Travels Well"
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/06/opini ... liams.html

    Not saying either way is right or wrong, but there are many things to consider...
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #19 - August 6th, 2007, 1:30 pm
    Post #19 - August 6th, 2007, 1:30 pm Post #19 - August 6th, 2007, 1:30 pm
    "Beneath the surface, the urge to buy local is often just a disguised version of the urge to punish someone foreign."

    ???

    Often?
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #20 - August 6th, 2007, 7:57 pm
    Post #20 - August 6th, 2007, 7:57 pm Post #20 - August 6th, 2007, 7:57 pm
    David Hammond wrote:"Beneath the surface, the urge to buy local is often just a disguised version of the urge to punish someone foreign."

    ???

    Often?


    I think the (badly phrased) point here is that some buy-local lobbying has protectionist motivations. This Economist article is another good backgrounder along with the ones Lee posted.

    The Economist wrote:There is a strand of protectionism and anti-globalisation in much local-food advocacy, says Gareth Edwards-Jones of the University of Wales. Local food lets farming lobbies campaign against imports under the guise of environmentalism. A common argument is that local food is fresher, but that is not always true: green beans, for example, are picked and flown to Britain from Kenya overnight, he says. People clearly want to think that they are making environmentally or socially optimal food choices, he says, but “we don't have enough evidence” to do so.

    As usual, these things are complicated. But I think Michael Shuman put it well (at the end of the Ethicurian post):

    Michael Shuman wrote:The emerging worldwide “buy local” movement is really about smart consumer choices. The slogan being used in the 55 networks of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) is to “Think Local First.” Note that it’s not “Buy Local,” or “Buy Local at Any Cost,” or “Buy Local or You Suck.” Thinking local first helps consumers pay attention to all the parts of a purchase – price, quality, durability, ecological impact, transaction costs, trustworthiness, and so forth. And what has become clear is that the more consumers know, the more likely they are to buy local, because what’s driving much of their nonlocal purchasing today is not smart shopping but dumb obedience to billions of dollars of big-box advertising.
    Joe G.

    "Whatever may be wrong with the world, at least it has some good things to eat." -- Cowboy Jack Clement
  • Post #21 - August 30th, 2007, 9:53 am
    Post #21 - August 30th, 2007, 9:53 am Post #21 - August 30th, 2007, 9:53 am
    OK, I understand the idea behind eating locally, and I appreciate that it should not be a "religion" but more of an awareness thing -- but here's my question: If I'm eating locally and the farmers are spraying their crops with pesticides, herbicides and such -- well, I just don't consider that acceptable. If I'm voting with my pocketbook, I'd like to have a say in what I'm buying. If my family is being slowly poisoned by eating locally, what's the sense in that? I prefer to eat organically. It's not a "religion" with me, but seriously, this is as important to me as eating locally. I get organic produce, dairy and meat delivered to my house. That seems more 'green' than 50 people driving to a CSA drop-off point to pick up their veggies...or for me to drive throughout my 100-mile radius to hunt down those local items I need. I'd appreciate feedback on this point. Thanks for listening.
  • Post #22 - August 30th, 2007, 1:33 pm
    Post #22 - August 30th, 2007, 1:33 pm Post #22 - August 30th, 2007, 1:33 pm
    Deb Frueh wrote:OK, I understand the idea behind eating locally, and I appreciate that it should not be a "religion" but more of an awareness thing -- but here's my question: If I'm eating locally and the farmers are spraying their crops with pesticides, herbicides and such -- well, I just don't consider that acceptable. If I'm voting with my pocketbook, I'd like to have a say in what I'm buying. If my family is being slowly poisoned by eating locally, what's the sense in that? I prefer to eat organically. It's not a "religion" with me, but seriously, this is as important to me as eating locally. I get organic produce, dairy and meat delivered to my house. That seems more 'green' than 50 people driving to a CSA drop-off point to pick up their veggies...or for me to drive throughout my 100-mile radius to hunt down those local items I need. I'd appreciate feedback on this point. Thanks for listening.


    Deb, I appreciate your points. To some extent, if the use of any cide bothers you, then you have to rule out a certain swath of local. Apples are mentioned as one of the top 10 foods to eat organic, yet it is virtually impossible to have a local apple that is unsprayed. I'm strident here because I want others to join the Eat Local movement, but I also recognize that it is not for everyone. We all have our priorities*.

    For me, it comes down to a tally sheet. I look at all the pluses and minuses, and at the end of the day, I come out squarely in the Eat Local camp.

    As noted above, taste, quality, freshness, succor, variety are part and parcel to local food. For so many things: fruits, veg, eggs, chicken, you cannot beat local for two huge reasons. First, local items can be picked much closer to their peaks of ripeness. Second, many varieties of fruits and vegetables do not ship well. Thus, the local market is awash in things that you can find in a store. And you will be vastly rewarded in taste.

    OK, what about all those other things, the environment and such. Well, it's not like you have to give up your organic principles to eat local. There are many vendors around here who practice organic/sustainable farming including Genesis Growers, Nicholl's (damned by their fruit), Henry's Farm, Wettstein's, Kinnickinch (sp?) and Sandhill. As I have mentioned before, one of the coolest things about supporting a local farm is, wanna see how they farm, well stop on by. Spy on them if you want. So, fruits aside, it's pretty possible to have your local and eat it too (so to speak).

    Now, there are other local vendors that are not organic (and there is that damn local fruit). Here's where to me, it becomes a balancing act. I'm just not that enamored on a lot of the practices of corp-organic, and I'm not one to galvinate to the organic label. Last year's spinach scare showed us that there may be quality control issues. Or take Horizon organic milk, where cows graze for the minimal amount necessary to qualify under the regs. More importantly, a lot of stuff is being grown in California and Mexico under organic methods, but not in natural methods. So, for instance, manure is trucked thousands of miles away to prepare fields.

    I've heard the 50 SUVs getting to the market thing before. I think it's also part of the New Zealand lamb people's talking points. To me, it does not hold a lot of weight because I do not believe that the "other guys" never have to use cars. How do all those large organic farms get their workers to the fields? While there efficiencies in corporate agriculture transportation in total, it does not mean that there are inefficiencies a long the way.

    When I balance it out, I would rather eat local, support local, be local first, then care about organic labeling.

    *Beyond how important spraying is to you, there is convenience, cost, time, and various cultural-religious dietary needs.
  • Post #23 - March 11th, 2008, 2:42 am
    Post #23 - March 11th, 2008, 2:42 am Post #23 - March 11th, 2008, 2:42 am
    Vital Information wrote:You cannot eat exclusively from the Chicago area, even for a week. There is no local salt, no local pepper, no local chocolate, hell no local coffee.

    Discussion in our house tonight.... Which is most local?

      Hawaiian Vintage Chocolate, made from the only U.S.-grown cacao beans, manufactured somewhere on the West Coast.

      Blommer Chocolate, made here in Chicago from beans grown overseas.

      Milky Way, Snickers and 3 Musketeers bars, made here in Chicago from ingredients made elsewhere.

    Does "localness" even apply when it comes to manufactured foods?
  • Post #24 - March 11th, 2008, 8:34 am
    Post #24 - March 11th, 2008, 8:34 am Post #24 - March 11th, 2008, 8:34 am
    I wonder when it comes to major manufacturing if local products are even available locally - many other businesses ship their product to the (not necessarily local) distributor and shipped back to the area...unless you're buying at the 'factory' store...
  • Post #25 - March 11th, 2008, 11:56 am
    Post #25 - March 11th, 2008, 11:56 am Post #25 - March 11th, 2008, 11:56 am
    For a look at an approach to this issue that may be a bit on the extreme side:

    http://www.ethicurean.com/2008/01/13/locavore-family/
  • Post #26 - March 12th, 2008, 5:17 am
    Post #26 - March 12th, 2008, 5:17 am Post #26 - March 12th, 2008, 5:17 am
    I posed my question in all seriousness.

    There are various reasons why one might choose to be a localvore, and a lot of them make sense to me: Freshness, flavor, environmentalism and a desire to support local farmers.

    I don't see that it's a huge stretch to extend the last to a support for local businesses, even large food manufacturers. I stopped buying Frango Mints and Fannie May chocolates when production moved out of Chicago. Blommer and M&M/Mars may be big businesses, but they employ a lot of people locally, which is something I care about.

    I haven't got the dedication that VI and his family put into local eating, and I'm too fond of foods that don't grow here, and I lead too irregular a life to limit my produce buying to what's available at farmers' markets. (Maybe if I could find one open 24/7....) But I do buy local when I can, and I try to support the businesses that employ my friends and neighbors.
  • Post #27 - March 12th, 2008, 8:16 am
    Post #27 - March 12th, 2008, 8:16 am Post #27 - March 12th, 2008, 8:16 am
    LAZ wrote:I posed my question in all seriousness.

    There are various reasons why one might choose to be a localvore, and a lot of them make sense to me: Freshness, flavor, environmentalism and a desire to support local farmers.


    I guess for me, that addresses the question. It depends, I guess, on which factors are most important to you. I mean I try to drink mostly local beers, but I rarely reach for a Miller High Life*.

    As to the timing thing, have you considered Irv and Shelly's Freshpicks. A box of local delivered to your door every week!

    *Granted Miller is located in Milwaukee but its also part of an international conglomerate.
  • Post #28 - March 12th, 2008, 12:20 pm
    Post #28 - March 12th, 2008, 12:20 pm Post #28 - March 12th, 2008, 12:20 pm
    I guess I was thinking more in terms of transportation rather than in terms of supporting local businesses, which might make more sense...

    Though, again, in terms of the international conglomerate - those have shown that they don't particularly consider if a product is supported locally when outsourcing or laying off workers (e.g. Macy's and Frango)
  • Post #29 - March 13th, 2008, 6:55 pm
    Post #29 - March 13th, 2008, 6:55 pm Post #29 - March 13th, 2008, 6:55 pm
    Mhays wrote:Though, again, in terms of the international conglomerate - those have shown that they don't particularly consider if a product is supported locally when outsourcing or laying off workers (e.g. Macy's and Frango)

    It depends on the business. Some care; some don't. I believe Blommer contributes locally. (I couldn't find any evidence in a quick search, but I did note they have a sustainable farming program in Indonesia.)

    Frangos were outsourced to Pennsylvania by Dayton Hudson, the Field's owners previous to Macy's, so although there's a lot to blame Macy's for, we can't credit them with that particular enormity.
  • Post #30 - March 30th, 2010, 12:31 am
    Post #30 - March 30th, 2010, 12:31 am Post #30 - March 30th, 2010, 12:31 am
    Push to Eat Local Food Is Hampered by Shortage

    KATIE ZEZIMA. NY TImes, March 26, 2010 wrote:EAST MONTPELIER, Vt. — Erica Zimmerman and her husband spent months pasture-raising pigs on their farm here, but when the time came to take them to slaughter, an overbooked facility canceled their appointment.

    With the herd in prime condition, and the couple lacking food and space to keep them, they frantically called slaughterhouses throughout the state. After several days they found an opening, but their experience highlights a growing problem for small farmers here and across the nation: too few slaughterhouses to meet the growing demand for locally raised meat. ...
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast

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