For years I have been perplexed by the cries of many calling us to ‘eat local.’ Sure, there’s no comparison between a strawberry sold at the local fruit stand and the one at the grocery store. I mean, come on. One was picked at the peak of its red juiciness and the other?
Well, I’m not sure what color the other one was when it was picked, but guaranteed, it couldn’t have been ripe. If it had, by the time it traveled from where it was picked to my grocery store, it would’ve been rotten. And well, the last time I checked, spoiled strawberries were not too profitable.
Here’s something interesting I just learned while watching a Joel Salatin* video: Did you know that in the U.S., each morsel of food travels an average of 1500 miles? 1500 miles! Whoa. Really?
The point is that everyone knows a strawberry from the fruit stand will beat the other in taste, hands down. One is soft, juicy and sweet. The other is hard and tart. I get that.
Well, finally after reading one Joel Salatin’s books (I think it was The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer), I finally understood what all the hubbub was about.
What I Discovered
Fact 1: As soon as a plant is harvested, it starts to lose nutrients. (source)
Fact 2: It takes 5-14 days for our produce to get from the field to our grocery store. -Yikes. My produce sits in the fridge for another 3-7 days before we eat it sometimes. It looks like we’ve been eating some pretty old food.
Fact 3: Many times farmers are forced to pick their produce before it ripens (before it can reach “maximum nutrient capacity”) so that it can arrive to us looking fresh.
Fact 4: I don’t know if or what pesticides/herbicides each of the farmers used on the produce at the store.
Fact 5: If I buy from a local farmer, I can buy produce harvested that morning and ask him directly about pesticides/herbicides.
Based on this information and a host of others I won’t get into today, I made a decision. I want to make some changes. If I want fresh, non-pesticide food, I’ll have to either grow it myself or buy from a local farm.
The clincher is I decided to not go all crazy and totally stop buying from the grocery store. I’ve learned baby steps are the best way to make BIG changes in the way we eat. It keeps my family and my budget from going into shock. And well, it keeps me from losing my mind.
The Plan – Best, Better, Ok
Best: Stop at my local fruit/veggie stand before heading to the grocery store.
Better: Shop at New Seasons Market for produce not found at the stand.
Ok: In a pinch only, buy from Winco Foods (mainstream grocery store).
New Seasons does a great job of buying the bulk of their produce locally. The prices are a bit costly, but I’m not usually buying very much.
In Part 2, I’ll talk about some of the difficulties of my Best, Better, Ok plan and how I think I can overcome them.
What about you? I’m sure you can see some flaws in my plan. Please share.
*Joel Salatin, is a famous U.S farmer, lecturer, author of 9 books, and writer for several farming magazines. I’m fond of how he thinks and many of his philosophies. He’s a Christian man and he and his wife homeschooled their kids.
Here’s a great video USA Today did on him.
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