And Who Says Accessible and Affordable is Out

November 4, 2008 at 1:17 pm

Rob Gardner

I still found a farmer’s market to shop at last week, and I still found local food that was accessible and affordable

In case you are wondering what’s all the hammering on accessible and affordable, let me give some background.  Several months ago, the Chicago History Museum hosted a small symposium on local food.  I met with the moderator to help her prepare.  She insisted that accessibility and affordability were the biggest issues for local eating.  I argued back that time, especially time to shop [ed. accessibility?] and time to prepare food were the bigger challenges.  We came to a standstill that day, but obviously, I have been thinking about these issues a lot.

Maybe we disagreed that day ’cause I’m such a farmer’s market lovin’ kinda guy.  After all, I became fanatic about local through farmer’s markets, not the other way around.  I do, however, see problems with farmer’s markets.  There are not enough of them; many communities lack a market.  Some markets are in out of the way places, with little parking (yes I mean you Green City).  There are not enough good farmers, so not all the markets are that good.  Markets often convene at odd days of the week and at odd times of the day.  Only a handful of markets are open in the evening.  At these markets, one will find food, not too expensive, I feel, not by a long shot, but surely, lets not call it cheap either.  Moreover, while there are many reasons I feel fine, nay justified in paying farmer’s market prices, I also enjoy (nay want) a bargain.  Buying local would happen more if local food was more accessible and more affordable.

Is it?  I set out this year to find accessible affordable local food.  I examined the inserts put in my Chicago Tribune.  I looked for local food in the neighborhood Caputo’s store where I shop often.   I can, happily I should add, report back that I found much local food.  There were times this summer when even Dominick’s and Jewel were advertising local food.   For at least ten weeks in a row, I could find local foods at Caputo’s.  I still find local food at Caputo’s.  I shopped at Caputo’s last Saturday.  I found many Michigan apples still, all priced at 69 cents/lb.  I was especially pleased to find big baking romes, which we had not yet bought this season (my wife makes a great baked apple).  We also found locally grown squash.  The hard squashes were not quite as cheap as they had been, but still pretty cheap at 59 cents/lb.   You can find accessible affordable local food.

I’ll leave with the concession that the accessible diet is not what I’d call, well a complete diet.  A varied diet.  If you like bell peppers, green and apples and potatoes.  More power to ya.  Still, Michael and I believe in practical local.  Small step local.  Get local where you find it local.  Glass half full local.  I’ve made the case for accessible and affordable local food.  Who’s going to convince me that time for cooking is not a problem.