The Return of Accessible and Affordable Local Food

October 16, 2008 at 9:28 am

Rob Gardner

You ask, how can we declare a renaissance when accessible and affordable local food never vanished?  You ask how how triumphant can we be when the examples found in the fliers consist of Jewel’s Michigan apples; Ultra Foods’ Wisconsin potatoes; Tony’s zucchini, cucumbers and apples, and the stalwart, Caputo’s with squash and lettuce?  (Also, for what it’s worth, my maternal correspondent reports a few local items at Sunset Foods in Northbrook.).   Yes, you ask good questions.  All I am saying is that contrary to some assumptions, it is possible to find local food without needing to visit a farmer’s market.  All I am saying is that when it looked like area grocery stores ran out of local food, a review of fliers found local food advertised.  All I am saying is that local food is accessible and affordable (all local food advertised is less that $1/lb) with a bit of inspection.

Am I saying, nay demanding that one eat a warped diet of zucchini, apples, romaine lettuce and squash?  No.  I am suggesting, nay demanding, that we choose local first.  We can prepare dinner tonight from squash or asparagus.  Choose squash.  We can create demand.  Teach the stores by exhausting their supplies of Michigan apples while leaving the pile of Washington apples untouched.   What you do not see at one place, well point out it’s at another place.  If all you see is out-of-area lettuce, tell them that Caputo’s has Michigan lettuce.  If your supply of winter squash comes from places without winter, ask why.  Bring a flier to support your case.  And for all of these guys, why cannot they have more beets and turnips and frost-kissed spinach, and Asian style pears and Concord grapes.  Our farmer’s markets are brimming now with foods.  Cannot our stores get more?  Our examples and our questions this year will drive the stores next year to expand their local selections.  We will surely look back and laugh when an insert promoting locally grown cucumbers in October seemed like a good thing.