Monday, August 25, 2008

Find local food locally

Maybe you're a huge fan of locally produced food, or are traveling and want to eat locally at your destination, or heard the piece on NPR this morning about Walmart getting in on the local food scene, or on the other end of the spectrum, maybe you've never really tried committing yourself to local food and want to give it a go but aren't in the Boston area so don't find the links I've posted about local food useful. Phew, that was a run-on sentence if I ever wrote one.

Anyway. Never fear, the Eat Well Guide is here! The website makes it wicked easy for you to search for locally produced food. Simply put in a food type or zip code or city/state with the miles you're willing to travel, and wallah, local food options come up.

I had the best luck by using my zip code. Options including farmers markets, CSAs, stores, caterers, restaurants!, organizations, educational centers, and more came up. My favorite was the restaurants option for sure.

I love patronizing restaurants that are willing to take the extra time and risk to source their food locally. It typically tastes better, and I can feel better about the fossil fuels used to create my meal. I actually recently read an article in Edible Boston about the chefs at Craigie Street Bistro that discussed some of the issues with using locally produced food, mainly that you're much more at the mercy of Mother Nature.

If there are violent rains, the blueberries you were planning on using for dessert may not be available, so you have to get some early apples to make pie instead. If you order food from a normal distributor, if the blueberries in Maine that they were planning on using aren't available, they'll simply get some from New Jersey for you.

The simplicity of sourcing food nationally (and internationally!) is appealing for many (or rather, most) chefs, and right now, a must for some of the lower cost restaurants. However, even large low-cost chains like Walmart are seeing the wisdom of sourcing food locally due to the high cost of gas. However, Walmart considers any food produced in the same state it is sold as local... which may be true in places like Massachusetts or Delaware, but it certainly doesn't seem as though fruits grown in Southern California are "local" to San Francisco...

Semantics aside, the local food movement is growing (pun intended), and I for one am reveling in it. Of course, it's easy to love local food in New England when it's the summertime... when winter rolls around and my only local produce options are the peach preserves I made, the blueberries I froze, or potatoes, turnips, parsnips, and onions left over from the summer... I'll probably be singing a different tune.

Until then, I'm going to enjoy my fresh corn, tomatoes, peaches, blueberries, kale, purple leafy vegetable that I don't know the name of, cucumbers, squash, basil, raspberries, green beans, peppers, onions, and eggplant, and I hope you'll go out of your way to enjoy local produce too.

The fruits of my labor - local peaches from Doe Orchards that I made into preserves!

Related Posts: CSAs Rock; Harvest Calendar for MA; Staycation in Boston; Fruit in the City; Jamming the Local Way
Related Events: Apples & Wine Sept 6

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