Sunday, June 07, 2009

Buying into "local"

Living in California, I realize that my view of the world is considered "skewed" and sometimes whacky. What can I say, I've lived here since I was six, so it's just what it is. I'm not an extremist of any sort, but I do understand trying to do little things to keep our world a little healthier.

Amongst our circle of friends, we believe in trading on Craigslist and Freecycle. We recycle and shop at farmers' markets. I can't say that any of us go out of our way to do other things such as buy eco-friendly materials or live more simply.

The one thing that is making me think more is the practice of buying locally and seasonally. Now that foods (except processed foods) must display their country of origin, I wonder if people will make different choices knowing this? When I've browsed the product aisles, I've put things back after seeing labels reading "Product of Chile." I mean, I love blueberries, but do I need to buy them in January from a country 9000 miles away? No, I will wait until they are from Central Valley in June.

Some people rationalize that it's okay because transportation is cheap and we're supporting their economy and creating jobs. But do we really know that? Could we actually be making them too dependent on foreign economies, destroying more land for farming, and discouraging innovation for a quick buck? I also tend to think the importation of cheap goods and government subsidies make people focus on price rather than quality. This is where all the rhetoric is lost on me. I want to do the right thing, but there doesn't seem to be a simple answer.

If you apply that practice to all foods, tropical fruits such as bananas and mangoes are pretty much non-existent. How can a kid not have bananas? And man, I'd miss mangoes.


teahouse said...

Yes, I'm trying to buy local as much as possible as well. You should read "The Omnivore's Dilemma" if you haven't already. There's a whole discussion about how even the organic movement has grown into big business, and at what point, "organic" becomes somewhat meaningless if it's used to refer to a large conglomerate.

I'm taking baby steps - buying at farmer's markets, eating only grass-fed beef, substituting Florida oranges with NY State apples. One day I'll get there.

Pandax said...

"Omnivore's Dilemna" was definitely an interested read. As much as going local and eating organic sounds great, I think there are some things that are impractical for the average person to achieve. I also try to cut out a lot of foods made with high fructose corn syrup. You wouldn't believe how different things taste when you get away from that for awhile. I do want to get into composting some day.

Sitcomgirl said...

I tried the local organic eating thing when I was on the east coast, one thing I found that was really helpful in getting me to do that was joining a CSA.
But I also didn't have the access to bay area farmer's markets that you do :)