Exploring the Concept of Eating Locally
The ebb and flow of trends in society has become familiar throughout fashion, film music and a number of other cultural facets. I often wonder if that same cycle will permeate things like our buying habits and the retailers we patronize. Are the big-box stores here to stay or will we eventually crave the mom and pop experience again . . . or is that happening even now? Some mark the market domination of stores like Wal-Mart as a declension in society, but others see it as affordable access to products for those living on a tight budget.
I’ve also recently been contemplating this circular flowing concept in terms of food. We have so much nutritional information readily available to us, but eat a ton of processed food and probably don’t think locally. What does it mean to think in terms of food locally or in an old-fashioned manner? I mean, I’m not talking about harkening back to an agrarian age, and while some of those tenants could certainly be seamlessly integrated into our lives (a little gardening anyone?), it’s more of an approach, a sensibility to the things we decide to put on our table.
In Jacksonville, the local farm and food co-op options are continuing to grow. You can go to the Riverside Arts Market on any Saturday and purchase locally grown produce, locally raised beef and things like homemade jams and jelly. And you can find a number of restaurants that use local products, with an emphasis on eating fresh. The benefits are numerous and range from bolstering locally-owned-and-operated businesses to the many health factors. I often think about how old the produce is in my grocery store by the time it gets shipped, often from South America, and put out for consumption. How much of it’s nutritional value is lost by the time you get it home and eat it?
I thought about State of the Re:Union Guest Contributor Alina Kodatt’s article about Crabtree Farms in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and their answer to her question, “How does Crabtree Farms impact the Chattanooga community at large?” They answered:
“Crabtree Farms educates and inspires the Chattanooga community to grow their own food sustainably. Throughout the years, we have cultivated a variety of partnerships from community-based organizations to government agencies in order to spread the message of sustainability and “growing your own.” We teach over 400 volunteers on our farm each year about the hard work and rewards of growing food sustainably. This year, our work with an inner-city kids camp and at-risk teens has impacted the lives of children in our most disadvantaged communities, teaching them life-sustaining skills.
Our urban farm offers gardening resources and classes, and grows region-specific plant starts to enable more food gardening in our community. Many former Crabtree employees and volunteers have gone on to start farms or work on unique local food ventures!”
Additionally, Crabtree produces TasteBuds Local Food Guide which inspires residents to connect with local food sources and celebrate our region’s rich culinary bounty.
It’s hard. We all have major time and financial constraints, but can you imagine if we implemented local, fresh food into our diets little by little? Geography also plays a key role. It’s probably far more difficult in some regions to achieve this than others.
We Want to Know:
- Do you try to eat locally?
- What type of fresh food options do you have in your community?
- How important do you think it is to make this type of shift?
You can read Alina’s article about Crabtree Farms and also watch our video about the work of Will Allen in Milwaukee, one of those places where food deserts exist and the options aren’t really there to eat local or fresh . . . until now.
Above Photo by Infrogmation: New Orleans: Crescent City Farmers Market, Magazine & Girod Streets, Saturday morning.