Don’t Let the Struggles to Eat Local Stop You this Earth Day

April 22, 2010 at 9:03 am

Rob Gardner

It’s been a long time since this Local Family decided to get the majority of its food from area farmers, a foodshed we call the Big Ten Conference.  Has there ever been a time when we did not struggle to achieve this goal? 

Eating local means working your schedule around farmer’s markets.  It means that even as you reduce the majority of food miles, you often have to travel around to meet your dietary needs.  It means spending time in the summer canning and setting aside for dark days, maintaining a root cellar in the sky.  Food comes nearly always in its rawest state, meaning plenty of struggle to peel and clean and deal with all of those carrot tops that should be a lot more edible than they are.  There are a lot of struggles involved in eating local.

Do we feel deprived.  Restricted.  Our struggles have never been about boundaries or limitations.  We have no line in the map that demarcates where we can and cannot get our food.  About the craziest thing we do is eat endless supplies of apples, as they are the one local fruit around from January until at least some time in May.  Of course we also eat citrus, some bananas, even bought mango’s this week.  We eat those fruits when they are in season during the winter and spring.  Sure, sometimes it seems like a struggle to eat rutabagas, kohlrabi, they hyper-intense version that is local celery, but we find it rewarding to have such variety in our diets.  Celery aside, these things all end up tasting good.  We do not struggle with what we can eat when we eat local.

I admitted recently that we are struggling with the costs of eating local.  We did not get a CSA this spring to save money.  As I noted yesterday, we are making sure we use up every last bit of usable food in the Bungalow.  We benefit from actions taken when times were better.  Our freezer contains parts from sides of beef, lamb and hog already purchased, and over the winter we got a bunch of meats from a CSA from Mint Creek Farm.  Still, as tight as times can be, we continue to use the good milk from local companies like Farmer’s All Natural Creamery or Organic Valley.  We get Amish Farm eggs at our neighborhood Polish market.  The few dollars more per we spend here, we just make up in some other way. 

We have not let any of these struggles stop us.  We eat local because the food tastes so much better.  We eat local because we know it helps the environment.  We eat local to build our economy and community.  We find purpose in eating local.  On Earth Day, many of you are thinking of ways to make a difference in the year to come.  To reduce greenhouse gases, to cut back on solid wastes, to get awful chemicals out of our waters; compost, change your light bulbs, bring your own bag to the store, scrap bottled water, ride your bike.  You can make all sorts of meaningful changes this Earth Day.  We hope and trust that one your changes is changing how you get your food.  That you have started eating more local this Earth Day.  We can promise you that you will struggle many a-times.  Don’t let the struggles stop you.  It has not stopped this Local Family