Sunday, April 10, 2011

We love eating local, but we're not local food purists.

Choosing local impacts our local economy.

"Paula, as into natural things as you are, I can't believe you're making that choice."  Someone said this to me recently, and I found it incredibly disturbing.  So, I wanted to share my perspective on local eating and all things natural, because it's unfair to be held to some kind of standard I never asked to be held to.

The way I see it, the more local food choices we all make, the more money stays in our local economy.  Does this mean everything I eat is locally sourced - no.  Sometimes it's because of time restraints, sometimes it's because I just want Girl Scout cookies for dessert, and sometimes it's because I'm just lazy or cheap.  But, our families purchases and intake of locally sourced items has grown over the last year, and I am certain this makes an impact on our area's economy and growers.

As Diana Endicott of Good Natured Family Farms near Kansas City says in "Fresh, The Movie," if everyone would spend just $10 locally each week, that would make a huge impact.  While ten dollars a week doesn't sound like much, in our household of two (now three) that adds up to $80 a month spent locally.  If we spend that amount at the farmers' market on fresh foods, investing in a local farm, rather than spending it at the big box store on tomatoes that come from California, think about the impact that makes on our local economy and environment.  And that's just two of us.

Now, add all the readers of this blog and we've made a huge impact in Wichita.  Wow.  So, don't feel bad if you only purchase a few things locally, at least you're doing that!  And, you can always work to add something else next season, as we're doing this year with the addition of tomatillos in our garden (granted, these aren't purchased but grown).  Fresh, local salsa here we come, and, Girl Scout Cookies...I will always love you too!


  1. Very well said, Paula--I agree wholeheartedly, and it's a message I hope more people hear and can learn from. Lots of people (myself included!) get frustrated as the complexity and stresses of daily life, and sometimes feel like since they're just not able (because of their kids, or their job, or their health, or their budget, or whatever) to convert completely, they may as well not try to convert at all. That's a temptation that I fight every time we do the budget and make up a weekly shopping list. But we keep at it, confident (or at least, I guess, hopeful) that every little bit we do to keep our money local, and our food local, is making a difference, in the lives of our neighbors and in our own health.

  2. Thanks for the note, Russell. Every little bit we all do does combine to make a big impact. Barbara Kingsolver did a wonderful thing in "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," but even her family had their one thing that wasn't local, and it's just not realistic in today's day for many people to do what she did. However, buying as much as we are able to locally in our currently lifestyle is the point I think, and ask any local producer, it does matter!

  3. Good points from both of you. Buying local is a great way to know what is happening with our food as well. I guess I want to know that the animals were treated well, humanly and with kindness up to the end. That is part of the reason I have started raising my own animals. My cow that is butchered is from a farmer in Eldorado (and he is WONDERFUL as is the meat!) and soon most of cheeses and all of milk will come from the goats. And of course I have some of the BEST eggs ever. lol Hopefully I will have the bees here and set up this fall at the latest. I wish there was more training of these type of things in Wichita. A barter system as well would make things really great. Perhaps if more places existed or people knew of them that would help increase the knowledge and the desire of most families. Not sure how to do that but I think you both are on a great path!

  4. We need a farm club like they have at Half Pint Farms! Any ideas?

  5. Good comment Rachel...sounds like you're doing a lot of great things. My hubby is a chef and wants to try making his own cheese sometime. Milked my first goat last Easter, the milk is very sweet.

    I think there are people who are willing to teach their trades (beekeeping, etc.) but you have to be connected to find them.

    Curious to know more about Half Pint Farms farm club, sounds interesting! Someone contacted me recently about setting up a local foods store in the area, much like Local Roots, I am thinking.

  6. (Ok I have to respond here because you show up as a non comment blogger)

    Let me know what I can do to help... Very interested.

  7. Hmmm...what does that mean?? - a non comment blogger??

  8. This is a great post. I think if more people understood that it doesn't have to be all or nothing, that every little bit does count, and that searching out local food can be an adventure (rather than something done out of guilt), more people would do it. There will always be those of us that want to go gung-ho and trade up everything we consume for something local (that's my dream, but it's nowhere near my reality yet). But there are so many more of us that can't/won't/don't want to do that. No one should be alienated for "not doing enough." Rather, we should be encouraging each other and enjoying the journey. Change doesn't come from the die-hard few... it comes from the masses (made up of each one of us), working together to build up our communities. Through supporting our own communities, we help the environment and ourselves. ANY little bit is a step in the right direction.

    Besides, who doesn't like Girl Scout Cookies? ;)


  9. Thanks Angela, glad you enjoyed the post and great comments. Now, it's just spreading the word to those who don't spend locally or don't feel they make a big enough impact with their purchases.

    Anything done out of guilt in life is stifling. You're right, we should be enjoying the journey of eating locally - from the procurement of the food, to the cooking and full-flavored eating of it...without the guilt.

  10. Bought some Girl Scout cookies today. Thought of you. ;)

    And I plan on hitting my farmers' market this weekend to stock up on local eggs, produce, etc... as I wait for my own garden veggies to come up.

    I think, the more we send out our message and lead by example, the more people will catch on. I also think it's really just a matter of people waking up to what's going on in the world around them. The national food system (the one we're trying to get out of) is set up to put us on autopilot, and breaking out of that lifestyle is hard at first. It'll happen, though. You woke up. And we woke up. Did you live life raised on McDonald's and cheap beef? I know we did.

  11. My hubby brought our Girl Scout cookies home yesterday too...mmmm!!

    You're exactly right about waking up, and sending the message out so people do just that. That's what "Food, Inc." started for Chris and I.

    Funny enough...I grew up on a farm two miles from my grandparents, who grew enough to last all year...until food in the market became cheap to afford. Then I forgot my roots...and so wish I would've learned more from them!