There's a lot of talk around local food lately. In fact, it's the new foodie buzz word. Organic, sure sure - we've been there. But now, now, we're going local.
|the community garden at U of Vic.|
Local however, isn't all sun and roses. We assume that because something is local that it's happy food - there's no chemical inputs, everyone is treated fairly, the animals are healthy and loved... Local does not = ethical. So, before you jump on the local bandwagon, think about a few things that will not only illuminate a few of the issues within "localism" but also clarify how personal local is to each and every one of us:
What does local mean to you? Is it within your geographical region? Do you think the 50 mile diet is fair? The province (or state)? Your nation? Continent? The most local food system you can find is in your own back yard, but most of us can't grow enough food to feed ourselves entirely this way - from here it's up to you to select what local means to you.
|fresh cherries in a yard in the Okanagan.|
How will you go about acquiring local food? Here on the island, we're very blessed with a year round supply of happy food. However, I believe if you're willing to put forth a little extra effort you can find year round food anywhere. Except maybe in Antarctica. (Do I hear a project coming on??)... You can google local farms (both urban and rural), farmer's markets, pocket markets, small scale local grocers, CSA (community supported agriculture) food box programs, take part in a local dairy share, buy your meat from local butchers and dine in restaurants that promote and sell happy meat and produce, arrange a food growing exchange with others in your neighborhood where you can potluck what you grow once a month - which may mean trying to grow a few things yourself - herbs, a tomato plant, a potato plant, radishes and lettuce all take up very little room and are very easy to grow. These are just a few ideas in a universe of ideas - you just gotta be a little creative!
|my garden plan.|
Of course, such sourcing does mean you may not be able to accomplish all your grocery shopping in one-stop-shop style. Are you willing to spend a few extra minutes each week to do this? It's not the fastest style of eating, but we need to SLOW the ef down anyway. If we don't have time to eat properly (with joy and nourishment), then there is definitely something wrong with our lives. I'm often asked by friends, "how do you find the time to cook dinner every night?" The answer is simple:
I. Make. Time. It's that important to me - like showering and sleeping and wine. It's just non-negotiable for me. However, you also have to allow yourself a little wiggle room and if you buy that corporate produced head of lettuce and some mass grown eggs once in a while, because let's face it - sometimes we're bloody tired - don't beat yourself up over it. Make the exception, and move on.
|panzanella salad with BBQ'd Spot Prawns|
Just quickly, while we're on the subject, let's go beyond the considerations of buying local. Keep in mind access and money are significant factors in going local - not everyone has them. Thus, we must look at how "Going local" can also mean engaging with the food system on a level that moves beyond your purchasing power. What else are you doing to change the system besides buying food? Are you volunteering at a local farm or soup kitchen? Growing your own food? Writing a blog? Doing art for others to see and be inspired by? Guerrilla gardening? Again, the possibilities are endless. Don't let your dollars define who you are - while it's important to support local producers, it's also important to support your true self: you are not your money. You are a supreme and amazing and powerful individual (and collective!) - what can you do?
Now, with all that said, watch the following video. Even us high and mighty locavores gotta be able to laugh at ourselves, right?