I saw something this morning about eating locally produced foods. I love the idea, but am not so thrilled about the presentation of the idea. I’ll explain.
I have my own garden (thanks to my husband), and we even compost. That’s as local (and organic) as you can get! I don’t grow enough for the entire family for the entire year, though. It’s a time and space issue. I don’t live in an area with a long growing season. Not only do I have a regular, full time job, and a family, which limits my time for gardening, but I have limited growing and storing spaces. I also don’t have proper drying or canning equipment.
Buying locally grown produce is a bit of a sticky issue. The places I shop don’t always offer local produce. Since I don’t enjoy shopping, and don’t spend much time doing it, I don’t look all over for all of the things that I need. I do choose the local items when they’re available and reasonably priced. I honestly (like most people) can’t afford to pay much extra for something on principle. Feeding and providing for my family is more of a priority than making sure certain people get my money instead of certain other people, to be very frank about it.
That brings me to my issue with the presentation of the idea of “eating local”. Maybe I just saw the wrong message, which was that we should all only eat things we grow or are produced near where we live. The majority of people can’t (and/or don’t want to) spend the time and money to make sure that everything they eat is home grown or locally produced. Not everyone has a green thumb, or the desire to garden, even IF they have the time and space to do it. Not everyone has easy and affordable access to places that sell local food. Not everyone can afford to pay more, or would want to do so. And not too many people would like the idea of only eating what is produced nearby, and only when it’s in season. One example I saw was bananas. I do like bananas, but can’t grow my own, and don’t expect that any are grown anywhere nearby. I also can’t imagine never eating another banana in my life unless I traveled. Banana farmers need to survive, too, and probably wouldn’t be able to do so if they only sold to people in their local area. Especially since those people would have a decent chance of growing their own bananas! Besides, some competition from outside can be a good thing. Also, a wide variety of nutritious foods in our diets is a healthy thing!
I think that the message should be for us to do our best. Just like with many things, the best way is not on either end of the spectrum. Grow your own if you can, buy local when you can, and don’t feel it’s an all or nothing proposition. There is a higher percentage of people who can buy some of their food from local sources than those who can buy all of it that way. Encouraging people to simply increase their patronage of local food providers can, in my opinion, make a much larger impact than making it seem like anything less than 100% participation is a wasted effort.