Tuesday, September 12, 2006

My local food moment

Last month while in Santa Barbara, I finished reading Michael Pollen's The Omnivore's Dilemma. A great book, although long, but when I finished, I was energized. That and seeing An Inconvenient Truth had me all galvanized for change when I returned home.

Besides the fact that the book is based a good deal in Northern California and the Bay Area, one of the parts I most enjoyed in the book was Michael's discussion about gathering his food locally. Over the course of several chapters, he talked about hunting wild boar in Sonoma, gathering mushrooms in so-secret-I-would-have-to-kill-you locations, and meeting up with various Slow Food movement folks in the Bay Area.

Last weekend, interested in checking out more of the local food scene, I went to the Menlo Park Farmer's Market to see what I could find locally. I chose it because on Sunday they have a fishmonger, and because we could ride our bikes there. The farmer's market is great -- wonderful stone fruits, fresh flowers, fresh corn, lots of families and kids. However, it is expensive! I did not think eating local would be so expensive. Peaches and nectarines were all around $3 a pound, corn was 2 ears for $1, and for a week's worth of fruits and veggies, I spent about $40. After our farmer's market trip, I drove over to Whole Foods to get a couple other items, and noticed in their produce department a concerted effort to point out all the locally grown food. I also noticed that while I think Whole Foods=Whole Paycheck, their prices were pretty similar to the farmer's market. Sadly, locally grown does not translate to lower prices.

So, as I have pointed out to my husband, I can only control for one variable here - we can either eat local or keep our food budget down. Sadly, I don't think we can do both. And while I am really fascinated by local food and the Slow Food movement, unless I become a sustainable pastoral farmer or quit my day job, I won't have enough time to find all our food locally at prices that I feel comfortable paying....

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