Sunday, January 16, 2011

My First Eat Local First

I was blog surfing last Saturday when I landed at Gold Forest Grains. They sell Mornville grown grain and beef on their blog. They also sell it through the Eat Local First website. I’d heard of Eat Local First but didn’t know anything about it. So, as one is prone to do while surfing, I clicked the link.

Turns out, it’s a virtual farmer’s market. From locally grown grains to locally roasted coffee, meat, dairy, veggies and fruit, its all just a click and a week away from delivery on your front porch. 

It’s a wonder really. All you have to do to get some farm fresh eggs is click on: BUY then PRODUCT LIST then EGGS then CHICKEN then ADD TO CART. After that, you fill out the usual paperwork then you wait until the next week when a cooler arrives on the doorstep. Inside you find eggs and a half dozen other items you forgot you bought.

It’s a great deal- except for the whole money bit. Though prices aren’t out of line from Planet Organic, if budget’s your primary priority for your grocery list, it’s not a cheap alternative to braving Costco on a Saturday afternoon. That said, cheap ain’t always worth it. 

There’s taste to consider – like these carrots from Peas on Earth! Transports me back to sunny evenings lolling on the quack grass lawn chomping my garden carrots to the beat of bees and swaying trees.
There’s sustainability to consider- natural fertilizers and pest control leave our water tables clear and soils nutrient rich.

There’s the farmer to consider- while a local farmer may be no nicer than a farmer using illegal migrant workers in California, the local farmer’s investments- financial, relational- are in the community.   Plus, if s/he’s a jerk to his temporary foreign workers, we’re more likely to know about it, right?

There’s a whole lot of ethics, morality and philosophy built into what we eat and where we buy it. And I have no claim on the right balance between money, time, health and environment. But I think we’d all be better off if we made our food choices with the aim of finding the right balance personally and collectively.

Personally, we don’t have the budget for all organic, local, fair trade products. Few people do. So I pick my battles. I buy organic bananas because the traditional chemicals affect pickers’ health (and pickers’ unborn fetuses). I buy organic potatoes and onions because they are generally heavily sprayed. I buy fair trade coffee because why not profit-share with the little guy? And I grow my own apples. We make our own wine.  Those are my choices today; tomorrow these things will change as I change and as the world around me changes.

It was with anticipation that I waited for Friday’s delivery. When the cooler arrived it sat out in -25 C for a couple hours with zero damage to the goods inside.  The delivery slip read:

Salami- 100g from O Sol’ Meatos
Red Norland Potatoes- 10 lbs from Maple Grove Gardens
Fresh Mixed Mushrooms- 1lb from Mo Na Food
Carrots (jumbo size)-10 lbs from Peas on Earth Organic Garden

I unpacked the food and lit the stove. On that cold, snowy Friday night, we were happily distracted eating exceptionally firm potatoes fried in butter with local Enoki mushrooms, chased with the tang of cardamom spiced Alberta salami. Good food really is a gift. 


Kevin Kossowan said...

Glad you gave it a go and posted about - such a cool concept.

Sandy said...

Awesome! I got their Good Food Box when it was still running and it's pretty fantastic. Found your blog through Kerrie. Great blog and I'll need to sign up for one of your future bread classes! That potato photo looks strikingly familiar!

deanna may said...

The mushrooms from Mo Na are lovely, aren't they? As for coffee, I would recommend Transcend Coffee -- a local roastery and cafe here in Edmonton. Transcend goes beyond free trade to Direct Trade, meaning they physically go to origin and meet the farmers, inspect the farms, taste the coffee, and arrive at a price. They end up paying the farmers way more than anyone else would for their coffee. It really is a better system than fair trade. Plus the quality of the coffee is incredible.

Thanks for this post. I enjoy your blog very much!

An Avenue Homesteader said...

Thanks for plugging Transcend. Do you know if you can still go to their south side shop and watch the roaster in action?

deanna may said...

You can! Although you'd better do it quick; they'll be moving the roastery to a new location separate from the little coffeebar in the next couple of months.