Here’s an idea: The next time you’re shopping for produce and you come across grapes from Chile, think twice. Is it really necessary to have something from so far away just because you can?
Why not get into the groove of buying locally?
One way I’m doing this is by shopping at the West Michigan Co-op, where local producers offer their goods, including local onions, apples, greens, etc. Many still have a store of produce on hand, even in the winter months.
If you don’t have a co-op, CSA, or farmers’ market that you can tap into, here’s a website from the National Resources Defense Council that might help. According to the site, “most produce grown in the United States travels an average of 1,500 miles before it gets sold.”
And transportation costs–to bring grapes, say, from Chile–take a toll on not only the pocketbook, but also the environment and public health. It just makes sense to eat “lower on the food chain,” meaning local organic produce to avoid toxins, support local farmers, and enjoy real food.
To find out what’s in season where you live, check out the site’s interactive “What’s Fresh Near You” tool.
If you live in the North, I know the pickin’s are slim. Believe me, living in Michigan, I’ve had to get creative about eating fresh produce….such as storing up root vegetables from the fall (I’ve still got butternut squash in my garage and parsnips in my vegetable bin in the fridge). Somewhere under the snow I have some leeks, but I guess they’re buried until spring now. Next year I hope to freeze the bounty of raspberries I snag at the farmers’ market. It just takes some planning and organization if you don’t live in a place where fresh produce is offered year ’round.
Don’t forget to check out localharvest.org. It’s a great resource for tracking down local producers who are willing to sell their surplus. And check with your local farmers, too. Many of them are storing surplus produce that they’re willing to sell. It’s just a matter of connecting to the right people.
(Thanks to Lois for sharing the NRDC website with me!)