Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
I’m going through a phase. A good, healthy phase! My family and I just adopted seven baby pet chickens, which we will raise for egg laying. We will use the poo for fertilizer for our garden. I got the idea from the awesome book Once Upon a Flock. I really do love this job!
I’m buying everything as local as I can, even ordering milk, meat and produce from a farm. So this new book that just came out, LOCAL: The New Face of Food and Farming in America, by Douglas Gayeton, is right up my alley. He wants us to get healthier, live more sustainably and eat more locally. I love it. Here’s a Q&A with this amazing author that gives you a hint what his book is all about.
KK: Douglas, what made you so interested in rebuilding local food systems?
DG: In February each year, my parents took me to watch the salmon spawn in Devil’s Gulch, a neighborhood creek in Marin County, California. That experience left me with powerful, primal memories that I wanted to share, decades later, with my own child. I had only recently moved back to the area, so as soon as my daughter was old enough to walk my wife and I brought her to Devil’s Gulch. Unfortunately, the salmon were gone. The causes were unclear, though environmentalists contended that building a nearby housing development and a variety of shifting agricultural practices had contributed to their rapid demise. I want those salmon to return to Devil’s Gulch. Not just for me, but for daughter, and her children as well.
Local food systems are fragile things. Wanting to understand how we can safeguard them, or when necessary put them back together again, started to me on the journey that became LOCAL: The New Face of Food and Farming in America.
KK: What are five grocery store myths about organic and local food that we should all be aware of?
DG: Concerned consumers who decide to shop according to their values often discover conflicting information about the food choices they want to make. Here are a few of the most common organic food myths–including the terms you can use to make sense of it all:
Five Grocery Store Myths About Organic Food
MYTH #1: ALL LOCAL FOOD IS ORGANIC
Local food producers cater to their communities, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are “certified organic” by the USDA. Many of these producers follow their own farming regimens, so making purchases from these local food producers requires another form of certification: “face certification.” This means getting to know a food producer, looking them in the eye and asking them about their purchasing practices, and forging relationships based on trust. Who knew buying a tomato could be so much work?
MYTH #2: ORGANIC CERTIFICATION MEANS BETTER WORKING CONDITIONS FOR FARM LABORERS
The USDA’s organic certification is primarily concerned with what is used (and not used) to produce the food you eat, but it says nothing about a farm’s “land stewardship practices” or how workers are treated. Many farming associations are currently lobbying the USDA to change the nature of this certification.
MYTH #3: LOCAL IS ALWAYS BETTER
“Food miles” is a term used to help consumers track the distances food has to travel to reach the supermarket, and ultimately their plates. Generally, it’s a good measure of the practicality of most food purchases. But you can’t get everything locally. Coffee, chocolate and most fish are usually items that come from far away. If you want to shop according to your values, try buying these products that carry “Direct Trade” or “Fair Trade” Certification. Both use approaches that help consumers shop according to their values.
MYTH #4: ORGANIC FOOD IS MORE EXPENSIVE
Numerous studies have shown that locally produced organic food is often cheaper than similar products found in a supermarket. To ensure that you’re getting the best deals, try to “eat in season.” Avoid apples in January or oranges in July.
MYTH #5: LOCAL FOOD IS GMO FREE
GMOs are genetically-modified foods. They’re in much of what you eat and wear. If consumers are concerned about GMOs, buying certified organic products is the best way to ensure their food is NON-GMO.
KK: What are the easiest ways to support local food producers?
DG: Buying local food not only turns shopping into a civic-minded activity but also strengthens a local economy by providing jobs and recirculating money within a community.
Here are three ways you can shop locally:
#1 FARMER’S MARKETS
Every community has one. What better way to get to know your farmer? Many farmers markets even accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program). Want to find one in your area? Consult the USDA’s FARMER’S MARKET FINDER or LOCAL HARVEST.
CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture.” Simply put, consumers purchase a “share” at the beginning of the farming season from a local farmer. In return consumers get a weekly box of produce from local drop off locations in their community. The contents of these boxes varies each week, insuring that consumers get the most varied and freshest possible produce. CSAs are a great way for consumer to forge direct relationships with farmers in their area.
#3 FARM TO TABLE
Many local restaurants establish direct relationships with farmers and even advertise these relationships on their menus. These “farm to table” restaurants allow consumers to support local businesses and farmers, essentially doubling the impact their purchases have within a community.
Are you getting with the local trend? Tell us how!
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