Saturday, July 16, 2005

Eat Local Challenge!

I discovered, through Planet Raw Milk, this wonderful blog entitled "Life Begins at 30." Luck for me, I am not even alive just yet- two more years of gestating in my 20s. The thirtysomethings are offering a blogosphere Eat Local Challenge for the month of August. I am a big advocate for eating locally, so I am game.

Here are the Locavores' guidelines:
-- Whenever possible, buy, eat and cook local -- i.e. within the foodshed.
-- If not locally produced, then organic. This choice generally protects the environment and your body from chemicals and hormones.
-- If not organic, then family farm. If it comes down to Kraft versus Cabot (a dairy co-op in Vermont), choose Cabot.
-- If not family farm, then local business. Coffee and wheat products may be difficult. At least support a local coffee-roasting house and local bakery.
-- If not a local business, then go for terroir. Purchase foods that express the region they are grown in and support the local agriculture. If you're buying Brie, by it from Brie, France; if Parmesan cheese, from Parma, Italy.

Sarah's Local Food Challenge:

1. What's your definition of local for this challenge?
I am including anything that I get from a family farm around the Chesapeake watershed area. I am going to Michigan next week to get some blueberries, but since I will be there in Michigan and obtaining the berries myself from a locally-owned farm, I figure that this counts.

2. What exemptions will you claim?
Exemptions will include tea and olive oil. I can try to find an alternative, Maryland-grown beverage, though. If I do go out for coffee, then it will be to a local coffee shop and never to Starbuck or some such chain. I do tend to eat out often with friends, so during August we will only go to places that are locally owned and preferrably restuarants that use organic foods. I might be able to get away with using butter instead of olive oil, but that doesn't work so well on salads. Hmmm...

3. What is your personal goal for the month?
My goal is to eat 80% of my diet from local sources. August is a good month to start since there is much to choose from. February will be a bit more challenging! When I am instated at the director of domestic affairs at Lakeside Drive, I will go our grocery shopping at farms or the farmer's markets, so this August will be good practice for us!

14 comments:

Jennifer Maiser said...

Sarah - so glad to have you joining the challenge!

Jen

James said...

I understand the basic reasoning behind eating locally, but it's something I can't entirely stand behind. I'm all in favor of supporting sustainable, and fair-labor-produced agriculture, but one thing that I do enjoy about globalization is the distribution of goods. Who could call it a bad thing that Inuits in Alaska have access to oranges and bananas or that Saharan nomads have access to wheat, rice, and corn?

Sarah said...

One of the things about importing and exporting food-stuffs is the impact on the environment. In order to get the oranges to Inuits one has to box them up, put them in a truck, truck it down to the shipyard, load in on a barge, sail up to Alaska, unload the barge, load up a truck, truck it to a central local and then have a bush plane fly it to the Inuits.

Interestingly enough, Dr. Weston Price did some remarkable research that showed NO cavities or cases of acne, heart disease, cancer, etc. in Inuits eating a native, local diet. As soon as "white man's food" is introduced their teeth were crooked, rotting, and cancer and heart disease became as prevelent as it is in our own culture. He found the same thing among countless "primitive tribes" around the world. It didn't seem to matter the nature of the diet as long as it was hunted and gathered in their own environment and was left unprocessed. As soon as white flour and other "white man's foods" were introduced Price saw the same thing: dental deformities, cavities, cancer, etc.

Interesting....

Sarah said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James said...

It's a little vague here. "White man's food" constitutes all sorts of things. White flour being a perfect example. Just because the global food market CAN produce and distribute something doesn't mean it SHOULD. McDonald's and Snickers bars are one thing, navy beans and cherries are quite another. It may very well be that different populations have adapted to their local diets and may adversely react to foreign ingredients. Select individuals in certain populations (I'm not specifically referencing the Inuit), through greater wealth, may have been able to maintain healthy diets, but that may not account for the broad populace of the region living by way of subsistence farming in environments that simply can't provide all the nutrients they require. They may "live," but that doesn't indicate that they'll be particularly healthy. I'd hate to see legislated caps on reproduction just because someone's foodshed can't produce enough Vitamin C for the next generation.
Global availability of goods certainly shouldn't adversely affect local agriculture (European and American farm subsidies have been almost literally killing African farmers for decades), but if a region can't produce the necessary and varied biomass for its population, I say let's load up the trucks and ship out.

James said...

Another thought: technically, many of the things produced in numerous regions of the States aren't native, and thus are not terroir. Say good-bye to any dairy products, much less raw. Them there cows' great-great-great-great-grandmammy came on a boat from England.
I'm curious, did the Native Americans have goats? Or did they only get their dairy from second base when they were babies?

P.S. Speaking of getting to second base, my Yuliya's visa petition went through!!! We're right on schedule.

Sarah said...

James, I will concede that some imports are great, which is why my goal is at 80%. I don't think it is necessary for Northerners to eat citrus, for example. That being said, olive oil, coffee and tea are hard to give up! Nonetheless, I try to buy such products from organic, sustainable farms, even if they are overseas. What we need to do is REDUCE our dependency on food transport. For example, Michigan is the #1 producer of blueberries in the world. Why the hell are there New Jersey berries being sold at Michigan supermarkets. Same with Maryland, we grow lovely apples here, why do we need to import them?

Also, it is environmentally irresponsible to have green golf courses in the desert, as well as many water-loving crops. Have an aloe field out in Arizona for goodness sakes!

As with dairy, it is sustainable here. Coffee is impossible to grow in Maryland, as is citrus and many other goods.

Again, 80% is the key!

Reducing our need for shipping also reduces our need for fossil fuels, unless we can send them over on sailboat.

Anonymous said...

You may find the following book review of interest:

http://www.salon.com/books/int/2005/07/15/pyle/index.html

Sarah said...

Wow, thanks! That is a very provocative article. It is nice to know that by buying local I am doing a small part to help feed people in Africa as well as protecting the environment. If the government would stop its farm subsidies, then farmers could grow less at a higher quality and sell it for a fair price. You know, I actually think that meat is TOO cheap in this country. Maybe if it were more expensive Americans would eat less of it and farmers could afford to treat livestock in humane and healthy ways!

Excellent article!!

Jennifer Maiser said...

Wow, Sarah, you have begun quite a debate! This is the really encouraging thing about this challenge - even thinking about these issues and bringing them to the forefront. I look forward to seeing more from you this month.

Jen

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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