Thoughts on Eating Locally

Eating local is something that is on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days–you’ve heard it–look at labels, shop at farmers’ markets, etc, etc. I agree, I would rather have my food come from nearby than shipped halfway across the country where it had to be picked before ripening so it could hold up to the shipping process. I do shop at farmers’ markets, a fair amount, though mostly for the cheap stuff, since I can’t often afford $14/lb lamb and the such.

Where my issue with this is comes from who I’m supporting. I love the idea of supporting my local farmers’ over the huge coporate stores, but I don’t often shop in those, so when I am shopping at the farmers’ market, it is the mom and pop asian markets that are losing my business. I used to feel guilty when I went to the asian market, I don’t know how my duck was raised, I don’t know where my greens were grown. I know the tofu comes from the factory down the street, so that is nice (though it is 50 cents cheaper at the factory). For a while I had felt guilty buying at the asian mart, supporting the wrong people, not getting local produce. Then today I realized I am eating locally, a different kind of locally.

When I say I eat locally, I want it to mean I support my community. Whether this means that my greens are grown in Carnation or it means that I’m supporting the immigrant couple that run the Ethiopian store down the street (Piassa Market), I know that my money is staying here in Seattle. Maybe my lentils aren’t grown nearby, but the money I’m paying for them is paying for my neighborhood to remain diverse. Perhaps my bok choy comes from California, but the money I pay for it is going to pay to raise children here in Seattle. I may not know where my mango comes from, but I know that by eating locally that no company in Minnesota or Boston is hording my milk money.

I’m going to a dinner entitled “Eat Local” tonight. I’m interested in where the organizers feel these options lie on the spectrum of locality.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi Gnome,

    I read your eating local post & it really struck a chord with me… I am a passionate locavore & often blog about that topic, but I recently quit a job that I loved (long, sad story) & kissed my paycheck goodbye. Now that I’m in an entrepreneur phase, I am forced to weigh every purchase with great thought as I need to stretch my dollars as far as they can go. Fortunately I am a big fan of all the great multi-cultural groceries in the Seattle/Renton/Kent/Shoreline outskirts & am constantly amazed at how many bags of groceries I can walk out with for so little money.

    That being said, I was excited to see the Columbia City Farmer’s Market open this week & carefully made my rounds to determine who had the best prices & what I would actually use. I think one thing I’ve fallen prey to over the years is walking out with heaps of gorgeous produce that slowly wilts & decays in the fridge, bread that goes stale, nubs of cheese that dry into hockey pucks or become foul furry creatures. What I’ve learned is that like an $80 sweater that’s made well & that I will wear for years & years, good quality products go a long way.

    So instead of buying three cheeses, I buy one absolutely to-die-for piece & make sure we savor every bite. I freeze any uneaten bread a day or so after buying it, & then I have impromptu sandwich material that I only need to reheat in the oven. I do as many other people do & shop for vegetables that I will use tonight or tomorrow, & then shop fresh later in the week once I know what our schedule is so that beautiful rainbow chard I couldn’t live without has a ghost of a chance.

    What did I buy at the farmer’s market this week? A beautiful bunch of curly kale & gorgeously slim baby leeks which we put on the grill. Both were a dollar, both were from Vietnamese farmer’s. Oh yeah, & some yukon gold potatoes for $3 a lb, not cheap, but I’m betting they’ll be creamy & flavorful & worth the splurge. It’s all a balancing act, you know?

  2. […] my mind was blown by the community a chicken company had brought together. In 2008, I wrote in my Thoughts on Eating Locally: When I say I eat locally, I want it to mean I support my community. Whether this means that my […]

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