Eating Local – Week One

by Jeanne


Life at the day job has been grueling bordering on abusive.  So without dwelling here’s my report on the first week. I think I was a bit burnt out from the Tour de France effort. Image: (c) J.Brophy, Seascape, Tomales Bay

Week One got off to a less than ideal start.  On Day 2, at 8:15pm after a 12 hour work day, with the Clash’s "Lost in the Supermarket" playing on my IPOD I could be found wheeling a grocery cart up and down Trader Joe’s. 

So what crosses my mind as I carefully read labels and consulted the map of California in my head is that this is going to be more of a re-education than I anticipated.  What I’m also thinking, is that eating "local" as defined by the Localvores and others (within 100 miles) may not be the easiest thing to do if you work 50 hours a week, commute another 20, or have family responsibilities. And while I’m not here to make excuses, I think we need to be aware that defining our foodshed as 100 miles while living in a city may be a bigger challenge than simply saying, eating organic is OK.

Historically, many cities started as trade centers for agriculture. A recent Earthwatch Radio show (a podcast) reported on a Canadian government survey on agriculture land use in Canada. Only about 5% of its land is suitable for agriculture, and most of it is being consumed by urban development.  This is forcing farmers to work land that can be less than desirable. 

In fact the loss of agriculture land is being felt around the world. Just look for urban sprawl as confirmation. City dwellers, such as myself, like to think we are entirely self-sufficient. Clearly after Week One I know that we are not. 

So over the weekend I stocked the larder with local cheese, dairy, fruits and vegetables.  I am easing up on the 100-mile rule.  I’m moving out by 25-mile increments. Giving up Brokaw’s Hass avocados is not a long term proposition.  My overarching goal is to make a sustaining change. The question, then becomes, if I can’t get <insert food item> within 100-miles how far do I need to go.  Why substitute or omit a food from my diet particularly if it’s of inferior quality or simply available within another 25 miles?  I’ve also replaced my brown and white sugars with organic versions.

The other solution is to renew my CSA membership with Eatwell.  This will hopefully help me with getting fresh local eggs, veggies and fruit during a very busy work week. 

So here we are at the start of Week Two. My head is a lot clearer and I have a new resolve.  Maybe due to yesterday’s outing to Tomales Bay with MALT on a two-farm tour. One of those farms Sartori Strawberries, where the owner, Russell Sartori sold his herd of dairy cows years ago to begin focusing his attention on organic strawberries.  The former 100-year dairy farm now grows several acres of this sweet, juicy coastal variety.  Taste is after all, reason enough.