Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Locavore Nation, Part 1

I previously wrote about my commitment to buying much of our food from local sources. Now, I have discovered a group of people who have pledged to obtain 80% of their diet locally. My initial reaction is that it can not be done except in very rare circumstances.

First of all, in the reading that I have done so far, there does not seem to be an established standard as to how determine the proportions of what will constitute one’s diet. How would you measure it, volume, weight, or some sort of tally of items?

Then there is the question of what ‘locally produced’ actually means. As an example, there are several bakeries very close to us so we can buy locally baked products. That sounds good, but then I know that the wheat the flour was milled from was grown hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away. That would also be true of most grains. How local is that? Strictly speaking, Susan would most likely not be able to make our own granola.

Meat will probably be off the table as well for us omnivores. There are plenty of meat packing houses within 100 to 150 miles. (Unfortunately, one is involved in the huge recall that has been in the news. Another good reason to think about vegetarianism I guess.) But, the ranches and feedlots where the animals are raised are not in these parts. Drug free chickens are processed locally. But, the chickens themselves are raised in the Central Valley, so I might have to rule them out depending on the mileage.

We could rule the following foods in with no problem:

Tomatoes: Susan grows heirloom and other uncommon varieties of tomatoes in her garden. We have practically a year around supply (as I previously wrote) and can easily supplement it from the farmers market if need be.

Herbs: We grow a wide variety of herbs such as mint, parsley, rosemary, basil, and bay right outside our kitchen door.

Greens: Susan grows lettuce and arugula (rocket plant), so in season we will have these. Others are locally grown and can be had at the farmers market. Some of these are really neat including bok choy and yu choy to name two.

Citrus: We have our own orange and lemon trees. They do not, in truth, come close to meeting our needs, but we can buy locally grown fruit from the near by college of agriculture store and elsewhere.

Avocados: These can be had at the ag school store and from other local sources.

Potatoes: One of our favorite stalls at the local farmers market carries a variety of offbeat potatoes. They also have cauliflower.

Strawberries: There will be local strawberry stands for at least a few more years, I hope.

Corn: The same goes for corn.

Fish: Except for the fact that there are enough pollutants in them to make many people sick, fish are also available from within the allowable distance.

There are a few more foods that I could list, apples come to mind, but you can see that while we could have a nice seasonally variable and interest mix of things it might be problematic to make them 80% of our diet. I am just saying.

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