Devour Local – Locavore
Most of the food Americans eat travels over 1500 miles to reach the plate. Produce from California travels over 2000 miles to reach New Jersey. For every California calorie we eat, 87 calories of fuel are used trucking it here. Food is shipped for our convenience with little consideration for distance. At the height of apple season here in the Northeast, we received a box of apples from our supplier, shipped all the way from New Zealand. It wasn't even apple season down there!
There are certain things like bananas, chocolate and coffee that we simply can't grow here. The solution for this is to just try to eat less of them. But the apples could have come from New York State. Even Washington State would have been better. Barbara Kingsolver, in her book – Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – states that the US exports 1.1 million tons of potatoes and imports 1.4 million tons of potatoes. The produce has been bred to withstand bumpy truck rides, and long shelf lives. The flavor and nutritional levels become quite secondary.
There is a growing movement of people trying to consume mostly locally grown and produced foods. They call themselves "Locavores". As the idea catches on, their are more local farmer's markets each year, as well as other ways to buy locally like co-operatives and CSA's. In New Jersey alone there are over 100 farmers markets. There are also 150 pick-your-own farms in New Jersey. See www.state.nj.us/jerseyfresh. The CSA, Community Supported Agriculture farm, allows a family or a group to buy a share of the harvest throughout the season. Often, the client is invited to participate in one or more days of farming activities, which, also can be very educational for the children. Co-op's and CSA's can be found on www.localharvest.org. Keeping your own kitchen garden is theraputic as well as a solution to the problem. Not to mention its another great learning experience for your kids. There is nothing more local than your own backyard.
Of course, not all produce is available throughout the year. Locavores learn to be content with consuming more seasonal foods. Some foods that can be harvested locally in the fall and keep into the winter are: wild mushrooms (Know what your picking!), squash, apples, root vegetables like potatoes and carrots, and hazelnuts. In the summer, New Jersey used to be known for its peaches! Tomatoes, and corn also grow well here. Ask your grocer to carry more local foods and to label what is local too.
by Marnie Vyff owner of Mountain Lakes Organic Co-op, LLC