For one month now, I have been buying only local produce. It’s been a lot of potatoes, carrots, onions, mushrooms, and apples. The good news is that these are very versatile foods. Potatoes can be boiled, baked, oven-roasted, pan-fried, and put into casseroles. Apples can be eaten just as they are, chopped up in oatmeal, fried, or in crumbles (yum!).
Nevertheless, I must say I was thrilled when I spotted a “Winter Salad Mix” from Growing Power, a non-profit urban farm right here in Milwaukee, at my co-op. I had recently read about Growing Power and all the awesome things they do in Urban Farm magazine, so I was excited to have the opportunity to support their work.
However, what was most profound about that moment was how much joy I felt over such a small and seemingly insignificant find. A joy that would not be possible had I been buying salad greens from California every week. As I sat down to lunch today and ate my first salad in a month, I felt truly thankful for the growers who produced those delicate green leaves for the nourishment of my body.
My goal to buy only local food (especially produce, nuts, meat, and dairy) has resulted in another wonderful discovery. When I went to the Milwaukee County Farmer’s Market yesterday, a young boy behind one of the tables handed me a free recipe and proceeded to tell me about their wonderful pasture-raised meats. I wasn’t exactly planning on buying any meat there, but I just couldn’t say no to this little salesman. Some bacon to go with our Sunday pancakes, perhaps? He handed over a pound of bacon wrapped in white butcher paper and I handed over $7.20. It was so worth it. My whole family agreed this was the best bacon ever!
In this transaction, not only did I get some great bacon, but I also paid for the otherwise hidden costs associated with conventional farming and meat packaging. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather pay for it up front and get great food in return.
I decided to eat more locally produced food for a variety of reasons:
- It’s better for the environment.
- It’s better for the local economy.
- It’s better for my body (OK, maybe not the bacon…).
- It just seems more natural.
But, I never imagined the joy that would come from eating food on a more sparingly basis. If you have everything all the time, there’s nothing special about it. Go figure.