Monday, May 30, 2011

Musings on Local Eating

Locavores.  Local Farmer's Markets.  Backyard Gardens.  Local Foragers.

The trend is growing stronger, and with good reason: we all know that eating local food is (usually) better for us, better for the local economy, and better for the planet.  Easy to say, hard to get my mind around.  For example, 
  • Can I still eat watermelon for my Memorial Day picnic?  I am pretty sure my watermelon came from a farm at least 7 states away, but the only fresh edibles in my area right now are onions, radishes, and kinnikinnick.  None of these seem quite right to follow my burger and potato salad.  Also, I don't plan to completely abstain from chocolate or bananas for the rest of my life.  How do those foods fit in with eating responsibly?
  • How local is local?  And how much does it matter?  If I can find a killer deal on half a grass-fed cow that is 3 hours away, is that still local?  Or is it more local to buy the more expensive beef from my natural food store only 1 hour away?  
  • So... I'm all for the idea of eating the way people did thousands of years ago, before the industrial revolution, feedlots, and Ho-ho's.  But what if in my part of the country, people had never settled in large numbers 200 years ago?  Before the gold rush, my area only supported trappers and nomadic Utes.  To eat locally and traditionally in my area, do we need to limit our diets to hunted game and wild foraged foods, or is it still "local" to import all kinds of non-native vegetables into my backyard garden?    
  • If the ideal food-production system is small, local, permaculture-type farming, what does that look like in my neck of the woods, at 9000 feet above sea level?  Is it still "local" to raise llama and alpaca, or quinoa, which have been successful for thousands of years in other high-altitude locales? 
So... what do you think?  Do you have any unique challenges to "eating local" in your area?  What do you think the future of sustainable food production looks like where you live?

Posted at Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist

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