Sunday, February 13, 2011

Local is as local does

I was a foodie looong before the term became hip, I mean rad ?  Now, if you are not a foodie then you must be living in the back cooler of McDonald's as it had become a very popular term. But what it is exactly ? A Foodie is someone who appreciates GOOD FOOD. Not fast food or junk food, not frozen entrees of boxes filled with preservatives and very little actual food but instead real food that came hopefully from a non-factory garden or farm.  A "locovore, "  another popular term,  is in the broadest sense, someone who tries to eat mostly food grown locally. "Local" is usually food that is grown within 100 miles of the consumer but the definition varies.

The reasons for eating locally grown food are many. Hopefully the food is better because it has traveled less distance and been handled far less. On average , an American' s food travels 1500 miles before it comes to rest on his plate. This is understandable for something like Salmon which I love, as the Atlantic is a ways from Livingston County Illinois, but why does my lettuce have to travel so far? Especially when a place like Living Waters  is literally less than 20 miles from my door ?

And what about chicken and beef and pork ? Turkey, lamb, goat and talapia, syrup and wheat flour ? Popcorn, arugula, sprouts ,milk, honey, apples, jams and ice cream ? Each and every one of those items is grown within 30 miles of our farm. Amazing really.  I'll be the first to admit (before one of my kids rats me out) I do not eat all organic or even all local because fact be known, I have a lazy side. It is EASY to buy food that is not so good for you. The supermarkets make it that way, tucking all the fresh stuff off to the sides while filling up the middle rows with all the convenience foods. Yet, once you START eating better, you will find yourself seeking better food.

When we opened our little store a few months ago we knew we would sell our meat there and we hoped to carry a few items from other farmers IF they were interested. The response has been so exciting ! To date we have products from 6 other farmers which include organic wheat flour, organic corn meal, organic wheat berries, cage free eggs, POPCORN (I am a popcorn freak) and Black Aztec corn meal. What I like the most is knowing those farmers through their involvement with our farm or through our mutual involvement with the Stewards of The Land. A farmers group that is accomplishing tasks that many other farmers said could not be done. Read about that group here

But when we choose to eat mass produced food, food with little taste and often less nutritional value we are also choosing NOT to support the small family farms which surround us. Even now when you drive long distances in the country you will notice the lack of animals in the fields. Where did they all go ? Many are now housed on factory farms where thousands of animals are crowded into small buildings never to see the outdoors even once in their lives.  Its no wonder that these same animals produce meat with little or no real TASTE.

You might think a small purchase of corn meal in a bag at a farmers market or small family farm store can't possible make a difference but it does. Telling your friends about the farmers sweet corn you purchased makes a difference too. Find the farmers in your area and get to know them. ASK them how they grow their produce, raise their animals, and if you like what you hear, buy their  products.

It takes a little extra effort but you'll be rewarded with better tasting, longer lasting REAL food which is nutritionally better for you and an appreciative farmer who may be able to afford to run his booth at the farmers market or sell his items in the local grocery store next year.

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