Things I Think About: Is Eating Local Even Possible?

The core idea of eating local as I understand is Farm to Table. It sounds simple, but living in a country with varied ecosystems and even a state with various extremes I’m started wondering about this.

What is local?

Your country? Your state? Your county? Your city? The closer you go the more green you get (in theory) however despite Denver’s reputation as a cow town…eating produce only grown in town really is not going to happen. For my area lets just cross city and county off the list. For my purposes state is local. While going country wide is very possible it gives support to trucking and shipping which defeats the purpose of local eating right?

What can be grown here?

Colorado has a notoriously short and varied growing period. Snow storms can show up as late as June destroying crops and livestock for the year. Or we can be so dry that there is no water to even start growing. That doesn’t stop people but not everything can grow here. There are lots of products made here but the ingredients don’t necessarily come from here. Hey I like Avocado dressing as much as the next guy but those avocados didn’t come from here. That kicks it right out of the farm to table premise.

Our top crops are hay, corn for grain and marijuana. None of that is food for the table. After that we grow wheat, sunflowers, beans and roots. Most of this stuff gets sent elsewhere for processing into other food items. Hardly local, farm to table, fare.

The first obvious foods that are grown here which you can get your hands on are peaches, if the snows cooperated, and cantaloupes, if they are not poisoning anyone that year. Tasty for three months or less out of year. Peaches at least freeze well.

There is actually a pretty wide range of fruits and veggies available though November due to hot houses. Melons, apples, pears, herbs such as arugula, roots are all grown here. The rest of the year can be handled by canning, preserving and freezing. There are some notable gaps though.

Say goodbye to citrus fruits. No avocado, bananas, or mangos. Plums are available for a short time and from experience the crops are not very good. Most local plums have large stones and little fruit in my experience. While mushrooms, garlic, and lettuce could be available, I’ve never found a local source. Spices, sugar, and even the basics of baking may leave you SOL.

Dairy is Covered

Dairy is another story. We have several options, some of which deliver to your house, for dairy. This includes some exotic cheese, including goat. Yogurt gets a little iffy, especially if you like Greek yogurt but you can pretty much have any dairy product covered locally.

Meat Maybe Isn’t

While meat is readily available it is also ridiculously expensive. If you have room for it, the best way is to join a freezer plan. You buy a whole or portion of an animal, usually get a freezer in the deal, and get something once a year. Otherwise you’re looking at $10+ a package for enough to feed one, maybe two people.

Is Eating Local Possible?

In short, at least in Colorado, yes. You’d eat less meat, need vitamin supplements, and probably need to be a cheese fanatic, but yes. In the long run, you’ll need to pick up some skills, such as preserving, to make the effort less wasteful. Processed foods, even local ones, may not truly be local. If you really mean local, your food’s going to be bland…though as I think about it, there are enough winery’s with local grapes that you could just use that.

Do you eat local?

Nope. I love a good Palisade peach but no, I’m not making any special effort. Local food, even at the farmer’s market level, can be very expensive. I tend to buy whatever is low priced at the time. That’s not always local.

But I think about it. Enough to mull the thought in my head and do research. I wonder about other places; how viable can it be? What if you have food allergies or intolerances? Local can be tricky and very, very bland.

Oh, dear. She’s stuck in an infinite loop and he’s an idiot. Well, that’s love for you.Futurama






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