Displaced Geek

Just a city geek and father coming to terms with being replanted in farm country

Local or just Lazy?

At the moment, I’m not sure there’s a difference.

The other day Emma and I were talking about our CSA, and the comment was made that a lot more food went uneaten and was thrown out last year as opposed to this year. Now, nothing gets completely wasted, as anything we don’t eat is thrown into the compost, and helps to make more vegetables somewhere down the line. But it’s still frustrating to have vegetables go bad simply because you haven’t made the time to eat them. This year, we let a few cucumbers go bad, mostly because I forgot they were there, and that’s about it.

It was during this conversation that I realized how much our eating habits have changed since we began our rural life.

While living in the city is the epitome of convenience, we obviously pay for that ease of access in many ways. Not the least of which is the lack of truly fresh vegetables and fruit. And while there are reports that this is rapidly changing thanks to the increased market penetration of groups like Suburban Organics and Door to Door Organics, and a continual shift in the policies of chain stores like Wegmans, and Meijer, my personal experience with city food shopping, combined with continued reports of “local washing” have me doubting that your average consumer is getting anything fresher than they were years ago.
(before Emma get’s on my case in the comments, yes, we had a produce guy that walked around with a cart when we lived in Baltimore, but I have no idea where those fruits came from, and since he had oranges and bananas when it was still pretty frosty outside, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t count)

Even before I’d ever heard of a CSA my eating habits had changed slightly, simply due to a lack of availability with regards to fast food. Back when I worked at FMS, I regularly had Taco Bell for lunch. It wasn’t because I love chalupas, (although I’m not saying I don’t) it was simply because it was the easiest thing to get outside of the office in the span of time allotted for a lunch break. Right now, the closest Taco Bell is just under 20 miles away. That’s gonna have to be one hell of a craving. After we joined the CSA, the huge influx of fresh vegetables every week provided us with the challenge of coming up with ways to eat them all. Regularly planning meals made out of those vegetables led to fewer days where we needed to make a meal on the spot, which in turn led to fewer preprocessed meals in general.

The truth is, now that we live in a town bounded on all sides by working farms, it actually takes a bit of effort to eat as poorly as I have in the past, especially in the summer. No matter what route you take to get anywhere, there’s sure to be at least 3 different farm stands on the road selling vegetables, fruit, eggs, preserves, and other farm fresh food. And even if you want to go to a supermarket, the Dutch-Way is less than 5 miles away as the crow flies, and their shelves are stocked with so many locally produced products, that in several cases you have your choice of which local farm you want your food to be from.

Not only has this shift in availability and convenience led to us buying more locally harvested foods, but it has obviously increased our intake of those foods, and subsequently decreased our consumption of others. We’re not complete locavores by any means, (I need my coffee!) but the concept certainly seems less ridiculous than if you had proposed it to me 5 or 10 years ago.

Coming back around to the thought that started this whole thing, the amount of “wasted” food from the CSA, I have a feeling that each year we live out here, our diet will change more and more, and the less we’ll have a problem finding a use for.

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Written by Peter

August 17, 2011 at 1208

2 Responses

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  1. Have you heard of something called Ample Harvest? (I think it’s ampleharvest.org) It is a site that links gardeners with local food pantries, so that if you have too much of something in your garden you can donate it, rather than let it go to waste. Sounds like you have it under control right now, but it might be a good option if you find yourself with too many cucumbers in the future. My first year of backyard gardening didn’t go too well, but maybe in the future I’ll be able to donate.

    Kerry

    August 17, 2011 at 1223

    • No, I hadn’t, but I just checked it out (btw, you’re right it is ampleharvest.org) and not only does it sound like a great idea, but it turns out there’s a pantry location ~3mi. from my house!

      Looks like I now have another reason to expand the garden. As if I need a reason!

      I hope one bad year doesn’t discourage you from trying again next year, it really is a continual learning process, every year gets a little easier!

      Peter

      August 17, 2011 at 1301


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