It has been a busy summer for me and part of my focus this summer has been (spoiler alert!!)...eating for two! I am a mere few days away from my due date, but I decided now would be a great time to give an update on what I have been noshing on and why I am "loca" for local.
I turned around and noticed there was a man stocking produce. "Excuse me," I said as I interrupted his quick stacking of citrus on the table behind me. "What does local mean?" Then man looked a little perplexed, a little bothered, but answered my question. "Local means that the produce comes from the United States." "Anywhere in the United States???" I quipped. "That's right! Not from Chile, Mexico, Europe, but any state," he said. "Like, even...Florida?" I asked. The man looked annoyed. "Yes, even Florida."
I was baffled. Here I live in the top ten counties in the nation for agriculture, and we are calling food from Florida local produce. To me, this was a little wacky (nothing against Florida).
Surely, the grocery chains must have their reasons. Perhaps it's cheaper to ship zucchini from other states and add to fuel costs and labor expenses rather than contract with local farmers. Hmmm. Doubtful. My actual guess is it comes down to other reasons. Perhaps supply and demand, contracts that have been established with the grocery chain across the states, and the other simple observation that consumers want variety all the time, throughout the year, at their fingertips. In other words we aren't disciplined to shop with the seasons. But is this the best choice? I'd argue no.
Local, really truly local produce if you can get it (and many of us can) is a much better choice. Not only are you supporting local farmers directly, but also you are eating the freshest, tastiest and perhaps the most nutritionally dense foods available. After that trip to the grocery store I decided two things: my husband and I needed to continue to nurture our simple garden (more on that later) and we needed to join a local CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is a selection of produce that is picked from the fields one day and delivered the next. As the consumer, you are sampling a taste of the most seasonal fruits and vegetables available. Even more specifically, you are receiving the produce that has been successful on the farm that very week.
We chose Underwood Family Farms weekly large produce box. Summer was a great time to start and immediately we enjoyed large yellow watermelons (my pregnant self could not get enough of them!), bright peppers, brilliant greens, large pineapple tomatoes, bicolor corn, herbs, and so much more. The produce was always fresh. It was never mealy, overwatered or lacking in taste. Is your mouth watering yet? It SHOULD be. That is how local produce tastes. Fresh, impeccably timed from farm to table and grown by people that live in your community.
In health and good eating (for two),