Local First & variant initiatives to encourage consuming locally grown fresh foods

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by mkrishnan, Aug 15, 2009.

  1. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #1
    Somewhat related to this thread... local first isn't something I thought about that much before moving to Grand Rapids, and I really got into it primarily because the farmer's market was such a good summer grocery option (and my g/f works for a university college related to agricultural science and has taught me a lot in terms of reasons to think about this :eek: ) and to some extent before that a lot of talk about this on Chicago's WBEZ NPR station. It turned out as I explored here that most of the restaurants here that I actually like are local first proponents.

    Then I started putting together some other connections in terms of how I had already been buying Midwestern beers preferentially since coming back to the Midwest and how many new breweries there are in Michigan that I didn't know about when I left five years ago. And driving back and forth from Chicago made me realize how many wineries there are here too, and some of them actually have pretty good wine (so now I have numerous bottles in my refrigerator). There's also ice cream that's made in the town I grew up in, which is 25 miles from here. All stuff I like quite independently of the fact that it's local -- I don't think I've ever had so many good cherries in one summer before.

    But the more I've thought about this, the more it also relates to a more unique issue of me being back in Michigan. As most of you know this state is hurting... economic crashing from the automotive industry on top of the recession, an outflight of young / talented / creative individuals as a result of the former. But it never really struck me until I lived in Chicago for a year to what extent Michigan lacks an internal consumer economy. We've been so used to building cars and shipping them out of the state and using the money we got back to buy fruit from Florida and wine from California that I could pretty literally grow up in Michigan and not really be exposed to Michigan wine at all, for instance.

    Here, anyway, local first seems really important not in a sort of "Buy American" sense of isolationism, but in the sense that we desperately need more internal commerce that sustains more of the short distance service jobs (restaurant staff, etc) that allows a culture to adhere to our towns and cities in Michigan that make them worth living in for young people with talent -- something that makes even Detroit (where there is some of this but honestly not as much as the size of the metro area would make one expect) night and day different from Chicago (where there certainly is this). I'm actually starting to think local first is a really important part of that equation.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2003
    Location:
    Penryn
    #2
    I'm fortunate enough to live in California's central valley. The town I live in has a 6 days a week farmer's market during the summer and a year round saturday market. The climate of course allows for a wide range of fruits and veggies to be grown. There are also quite a few local cheese producers ( Happy cows come from California after all! ) as well as beef, pork and chicken farms and local wine and beer.

    The markets truly provide what I think is an essential part of the idea of community. While the money is a good thing, I think that more importantly talent is being retained, which is especially important in second tier and rural cities. They also provide an informal forum for people to gather. Air conditioned grocery shopping just doesn't compare.

    Artisans are always local and whether their art is wine, or tomatoes or bird houses, I think it's very important for society that we support them.
     
  3. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #3
    Sometimes local isn't best, there is serious scientific evidence which shows that "growing" lamb in New Zealand and shipping it half way round the world to the UK is better for the environment (in terms of emissions produced) than "growing" lamb in the UK as it is done more sustainably over there.
     
  4. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #4
    That's a really interesting point (from the environmental point of view but not necessarily from the point of view of economic sustainability of blighted locales) ... now is this a pretty meat-specific thing? Or are there similar issues for us vegetarians or mostly-vegetarians? :eek:
     
  5. SactoGuy18 macrumors 68020

    SactoGuy18

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2006
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA USA
    #5
    Since I live in Sacramento, California, I get to enjoy year-round at least two days a week of farmer's markets: every Saturday at three different locations in Sacramento County, every Sunday in downtown Sacramento (under the "W-X Freeway"), and several times during the week at other various locations during the summer. Get there early, because these farmer's markets can be quite packed with people very quickly.
     
  6. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #6
    Yeah, ours (which is sadly not year-round) is mobbed, particularly on Saturdays (it's four days a week). I think that's one of those Good Things (TM) though... rather live in a place where there's a line down the block to get into the Farmer's Market or the library than in a place where the line is at McDonalds, you know? :eek:
     
  7. Iscariot macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2007
    Location:
    Toronteazy
    #7
    Here's a Time article about that subject.

    Personally, I think the distinction is not particularly important. Choosing one or the other still reflects a conscious choice, and it's a conscious choice that inserts our value into the market. Either one is a vote with your dollar that will help to shape a sustainable future.
     
  8. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2003
    Location:
    Penryn
    #8
    Sure, it makes sense as long as NZ continues to import stuff from Europe.

    If a product is consumed within a few miles of where it is raised, then it's hard to imagine it not being sustainable. Especially if it's grown on a multi-use organic farm.
     
  9. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #9
    I have no idea to be honest.

    Here's the Telegraph's coverage on this:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1553456/Greener-by-miles.html

    And the WTO (load the bottom tab)

    http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_E/envir_e/climate_impact_e.htm
     
  10. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    #10
    My family grows produce so I am rarely without fresh except for in the colder months. They taste much better than the crap you buy at walmart.
     
  11. bobber205 macrumors 68020

    bobber205

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2005
    Location:
    Oregon
    #11
    Man, I so envy you! :)
    I wish I even knew someone I could get fresh produce from... The occasional farmer's market is the best I can get.
     
  12. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #12
    The Time article raised some interesting points but didn't really provide much good information... the Telegraph article was good. As usual, raises the need for an actual quantitative metric to know the environmental impact of food one eats.

    FWIW my point was never that one should go all religious on local foods -- I didn't do that on organic foods and I think those kinds of crazes are almost always counterproductive. Actually I was mostly interested on the impact on local economic stability, as I said already. But there are lots of interesting factors to think about....

    You're not a beet farmer by any chance, are you?
     
  13. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    #13
    haha, no, but I do love the office. :p

    The farmers markets are awesome compared to a grocery store though.
     

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