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