Monday, April 30, 2007

Eat Local!

To continue in the spirit of Earth Day last week, this is an idea whose time has come: Eat Local. (Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say come again. I don't think that this concept would seem very revolutionary to our great-grandparents.)

A take-out eatery has just opened in Seattle, Washington, USA. Eat Local is Pro-local agriculture, Pro-local business, Environmentally Friendly, and Sustainable. It's got it all. What a fabulous idea!

I'm pretty sure that I don't have the entrepreneurial food-service expertise to try such an undertaking myself, but that doesn't mean I'm just waiting on the curb for "Eat Local" to open up a shop near me. There is a flood of interest in local produce (safer, less cost/pollution to move to market, supporting local economy, etc.) so finding additional resources and information is easy as locally-baked pie.

The pet food poisoning has focused a lot of attention on the safety issues that imported food can represent: other countries don't necessarily have the same regulations that you might be used to and there is also the opportunity for terrorist interception and tampering. Very little food is being inspected right now, for example, that is entering the USA.

Another aspect of the produce industry that is coming to light: Organic is not the same thing as Local. While this may seem obvious on the surface, consider that:

  1. Organic in that other country may be defined differently than in your own

  2. If the distributer isn't labeling Country-of-Origin on the canned or processed good; how do you know

  3. If you are buying organic to be environmentally sensitive, if it comes from China and you live in the USA, it's consumed a lot of fuel and energy to come here.

Everyone is starting to jump into the Local bandwagon, at least here in the US, and while sometimes this type of behavior is a bad thing, I don't believe this to be the case in this instance. Local governments and states are starting to encourage local businesses and farms, Corporations like Whole Foods are starting to reach out to local businesses and support fledgling farms, Local groups and blogs are writing about the trials and triumphs of eating local, and
Special events are being planned to highlight local produce and grow the market.

All of this attention gives the average Nitpicky Consumer a lot of good options.

I just did a few quick web searches for "local farmers markets northern virginia united states" and within minutes I had links to all sorts of local markets, including the oldest continuing market at the same site in the united states: Alexandria Farmers Market. I plan on checking it out in a few weeks, and I'll report back!

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