Monday, January 14, 2008

Eat Fresh, Eat Local

Sweet Corn
Originally uploaded by The Marmot
My wife and I have frequented the local farmers market for years. We have done this for several reasons. There is a commitment to support the local economy (albeit no one will be sending their kids to college on the amount we spend). The products seem to be fresher and tastier than those at the mega marts. Then there is the ability to find items that are, for one reason or another, not available in the markets around here, but seem to be better than those that are.

Our favorite find this past year was Reed avocados. The Reed is a large, round avocado that slips easily from the peel, and has very good flavor and texture. It will stay firm even when ripe, so it's perfect for sandwiches and in salads, but not as good for guacamole.

The photo of sweet corn was taken at the farmers market about a year ago. Yes, I know it was winter. But, in Southern California, where the land ranges from the deserts to the sea, the seasons have little meaning. We are still harvesting tomatoes from Susan's garden, even though we have had a couple of nights of frost. But, I digress. The point is that when we first moved out here we could buy corn and strawberries from farm stands next to the fields where they were grown. These were only a few minutes away from home. Sadly, most of these have been forced out by housing development. One of these developments, not far from us, has assumed the unlikely name of "Sycamore Grove". Rightfully, it should be called "Strawberry Fields".

But, strawberry fields are not forever. Just before we arrived, an agricultural preserve had been established on a large tract of land to the southeast of us. It was to have lasted for perpetuity. It turns out that perpetuity is only ten years, not time without end as my thesaurus would have it.

Anyway, we are now buying further removed from the fields, but as local as possible. Little did we know that we have become part of a growing (no pun intended) trend. Seemingly, “eat local” has become a mantra of the environmental movement. It makes sense that buying crops that are not transport hundreds, if not thousands, of miles has a lesser impact on the planet. Being organic as most of the growers at the farmers' market is also a positive thing.

We are not hardcore in our commitment. Apples from Washington state are fine with us, those from New Zealand are not. We still shop at the supermarket when we feel the need. But, we have resolved to only eat what is in season and avoid imports, except for bananas. It remains to be seen how this works out for us.

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