When your food gets around more than you do….

Thinking about where your food comes from is a scary idea. Remember as a child how you may have chewed on your toys or put something in your mouth that you should not have? And your mother would say “You don’t know where it’s been!”
Now take a second look at that apple you are chewing on. Where is it from?

According to sustainabletable.org ” the U.S., the average grocery store’s produce travels nearly 1,500 miles between the farm where it was grown and your refrigerator.” Let’s think about that for a second. Fifteen hundred miles is a long, distance; especially when considering that people a few hundred years ago barely left 10-20 mile radius of their place of birth. Heck, lots of Americans have not left the country in their lifetime but they’ve eaten plenty of fruit from Chile. As we’ve discussed, the problem doesn’t really involve the actual produce as much as the travel factor. By traveling such great distances, the fruit requires oil to be moved, creating pollution, reducing our oil supply, and increasing cost. The produce also requires packaging and other preservation techniques to make sure it does not rot before it makes it to the self at the supermarket. If you have ever eaten fresh vegetables plucked from the ground, you can right away tell the difference between fresh picked and picked last week.

As Americans, we are wary of sacrificing our convenience. So we have two options: 1) Continue buying lower quality produce at our normal supermarket or 2) Change to buying produce at local farmer’s markets. By going with #2, we can vote with our wallets. One of the great things about capitalism is that competition is best for the consumer. If sales of imported produce drop, supermarkets may have to start buying local produce from local farms to stay competive. This is the optimal solution, as we will then get our convenience, local farms and economies will be stimulated, and we will all be eating better food. This is one of the reasons for Whole Food’s success.

I also enjoy going to farmer’s markets. I’ve visited a few in the past year or two, including one in Germany and another in Barcelona. I think its just a fun cultural event, no matter where you are. I am a huge fan of the one in Lewisburg on Wednesday mornings. They have a lot of cool produce and other things: all for pretty cheap. I recommend going at least once before you graduate. Here’s a list of produce in season in PA.

It’s also nice to know that local farming is getting a boost from the White House. President Obama’s personal chef, Sam Kass, from Chicago (He had a chef?!) will be working in the White House kitchen. Kass is a supporter of healthier food and local food in school systems. My gut feeling is (and after watching a little bit too much of Top Chef) is that most Chefs want to cook with the finest ingredients and feel that local farmers give better quality ingredients. It will be good to have some one in a place of influence with a local and sustainable agenda.

To leave you on a deep thought….

I like rice. Rice is great if you’re hungry and want 2000 of something- Mitch Hedberg

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6 Responses

  1. So interesting and true! To go along with this…I once saw a presentation that explained the entire journey of how your coffee gets from the plant to your mug. It’s really incredible once you break down each component of the supply chain of what we think to be the simplest of food. Also-it’s interesting to think about potential public outcry if a food that we’re used to having year round was all the sudden restricted to the season in which it is ripe in the US in order to re-vamp the food industry.

  2. […] It will be good to have some one in a place of influence with a local and sustainable agenda. To leave you on a deep thought…. I like rice. Rice is great if you’re hungry and want 2000 of something- Mitch Hedberg …Read More […]

  3. My food has definitely been around far more than I have. I have barely traveled through half of the states in this country, let alone leaving the US. I also enjoy going to the local farmers market. Ard’s and the flea market on rt 15 (shortly past Wal-Mart and open on Sunday’s) also ave great produce.

    it is a great idea to vote against importing produce by going to the local farmers market. I’ve never thought of that before. I will have to shop at these local venues more often.

  4. Mitch Hedberg is…?

  5. Jordi – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2491LucLa1g (Mitch Hedberg)

    As I think more and more about this “buy local” trend I think I’ve come up with a solution that would satisfy local farmers and impatient shoppers. Drum rollll pleaseeeeeeeeeeee….. In addition to the Organic Foods section of grocery stores, why don’t they also have a locally grown section. Granted I am not the most seasoned grocery shopper so this mystical aisle may already exist, but it’s such a simple solution. Consumers in Pennsylvania are always going to watch fruits and vegetables that are either out of season in PA or just plain not grown here. But, if you can catch them while they’re at the grocery buying California or Florida oranges, then maybe you can get them to purchase other fruits or vegetables from local farmers.

    P.s. – Someone let me know if this doesn’t exist so I can work on making my millions from this idea!

  6. I definitely agree that there should be a push towards buying from the local farmers, but I’m just not convinced that it’s the solution to all problems. The obvious is one is that if everyone hopped on the buy local train, would farmers really be able to keep up with such an increase in demand? In reference to the locally grown section in the supermarkets….would farmers even want to partner up with the super markets, or is part of what they pride themselves on NOT being just another aisle in a grocery store? In terms of the consumer, while it is fun to go to local farmers markets and while the food is undeniably better, we are creatures of convenience and efficiency. Supermarkets give us the option to get all of life’s little necessities all in one place. You can’t get a tube of tooth paste or rolls of paper towels at a farmers market, which makes it hard to believe that there would be a complete shift away from grocery stores as a means of putting food on the table.

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