Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Campaign for Local Food (Part 2)

In the last couple weeks I had a family member admitted to the hospital, and while visiting her I caught a bug and Chris dropped my phone in the urinal. Yes, ick! So, you’ve had to wait patiently for the unveiling of the candidate who values local foods, which I blogged about previously.

First, I know the rules: 1. Never discuss religion and 2. Never discuss politics with people you want to keep as friends (and I want to keep all my blog readers as friends). So, I hope you understand what I’m doing is sharing my experience with this candidate, because I find it refreshing. Not because I’m trying to push my values on you – many of you will not be able to vote for her anyway. So here goes…

I have been impressed, not only with Ms. J’s interest and passion for buying locally, but with her integrity as a person. When Chris and I were helping to plan the menu for her campaign event, the topic of alcohol came up. Should we include it, should we not? Smiling I said, “you’ll probably get more donations if you include it, that’s what the casinos do.” Ms. J responded with a statistic about the amount of alcohol that is abused in the US, and shared how shocked she was reading about it. She’d rather not include alcohol, that isn’t the type of campaign she wanted to run.

Another lesson I learned from Ms. J is the importance of being positive about local eating, rather than tearing down manufacturers or companies that may not behave in a way I consider ethical. “Positive messages,” is what she told me, “we need to share positive messages.” We all know these:

District 105, you have an excellent House
of Represenatives candidate.
• Local eating builds community
• Local eating supports the local economy
• Local eating provides the freshest foods
• Local eating decreases the distance food travels
• Local eating tastes great!
• And on and on and on…

There are many negative things we could focus on as locavores, however, from Ms. J I have learned how important focusing on the positive is, and I for one, have not heard her talk negatively to bring down others. I completely respect that.

So who is this mystery candidate…her name is Jane Byrnes and she is running for House District 105 which is located in west Wichita. I don’t live in her area of Wichita, so I can’t even vote for her, although I considered moving to do so ;) Learn more about her and her values at

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Campaign for Local Food

Local Aqua Fresca - Refreshing!

Recently Chris and I helped out with a campaign fundraising party for a candidate who supports local eating.  We assisted in developing a menu for the event and Chris prepared some of the food while I compared the distance our food traveled with the distance food would typically travel for a party.  Here's what we did and a comparison:

The campaign menu consisted of:
1.  Aqua Fresca (Two flavors of water infused with local peaches, cucumber and herbs from local gardens)
2.  Bean dip and Lavosch Crackers (Made with pinto beans and wheat from a Kansas farmer)
3.  Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil H'orderves (Tomato and basil from local gardens, mozzarella made with fresh milk from a dairy in Hesston)

Farthest distance traveled:  37 miles (for the milk)

A typical menu may consist of:
1.  Aqua Fresca (Peaches from Somewhere, USA and cucumbers from Mexico)
2.  Hummus and pita (Made with garbanzo beans from the Mediterranean and what from ???)
3.  Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil H'orderves (All items from Somewhere, USA)

Farthest distance traveled:  6013 miles* (if the beans came from Athens, but it's hard to know for sure)

Local Flavor
 I went to the grocery store to research the origins of many of the typical menu items, but produce stickers don't indicate a state, just the country (USA, Mexico, etc.)  In my research, I found that the method of transportation impacts the amount of fuel used.  Transportation by sea is extremely efficient while air travel is very inefficient, but how do you figure that out?  Does the produce guy know if his produce traveled first class on a plane, or had a port hole window on a ship?  In comparison, you can ask the farmer at the local market where the produce came from. 

I didn't get distances for all items involved, due to lack of information on the label.  It's difficult to figure out where a food comes from unless you know the producer of the food, and we all know how to do that, right?

Who is this candidate that supports local production of food? Find out in my next post...

*Distance is the theoretical air distance