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Eat Local? Whatever

A few readers of the One City blog brought up a great point last week in response to my post about organic food, one that I think merits discussion of its own: is “eating local” even more important that eating organic? Is it fresher? Better for you? The environment? Most important (to my lazy self), is eating local worth the effort? Because getting up early on a Saturday morning to shop the local farmers’ market is, uh, not my idea of fun.
Here are a few links about how to eat local and why:
Have any of you seriously tried this? Is the food better? Do you think you’re really saving tons of energy and fossil fuels by buying food that’s produced locally? (I’m thinking about how much energy it takes per pound of food to drive a pickup truck full of apples from upstate NY to Union Square vs. a barge full of bananas from South America — economies of scale here — but that probably isn’t a fair comparison. And there are still trucks that have to drive the bananas to our stores…)
Anyway. Until you guys can convince me otherwise, my idea of eating local will remain the bodega nearest my house, and the awesome restaurants on Graham Avenue. And this place:

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posted August 29, 2008 at 11:04 am

I think your exactly right. It’s all about supporting your local economy, whether it’s a farmstand or a bodega.

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posted August 29, 2008 at 11:21 am

Well, as meant to mention before, it’s easy to see a difference when comparing Whole Foods’ all-imported organics to buying something grown in the Redlands. Less so most other times.

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Greg Zwahlen

posted August 29, 2008 at 11:26 am

Eva, have you read The Omnivore’s Dilemma by by Michael Pollan? I haven’t, but I understand he covers this ground. How to weight organics vs locally grown vs health concerns vs taste concerns.
It is the book of the month for the Williamsburg book club in a couple of weeks, so you could really hash it out at the Charleston if you wanted to

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posted August 29, 2008 at 11:47 am

Those ribs are are like a car crash I can’t look away from.

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posted August 29, 2008 at 12:24 pm

I love that one of your tags is ‘lazy ass.’

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posted August 29, 2008 at 12:47 pm

for me, eating local means knowing where my food came from. i grew up on a farm, so i much prefer to support a small farm in jersey that picked the veggies a day or 2 ago, than a huge industrial conglomerate that had some anonymous migrant worker, or better yet, some picking machine, throw my zucchini into a truck, irradiate, then ship it across the country or world. local can also use less pesticides and additives because its shelf life is shorter anyway. there’s many more reasons, but it basically comes down to supporting industrial food, or real food.
omnivore’s dilemma is HIGHLY recommended for this topic. just read the corn section.

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posted August 29, 2008 at 1:10 pm

the girl in the pic. seems so happy. is that charles mason on her shirt?
man …. those ribs. wow … memories from the corners of my mind. misty watercolor memories of the way we were……

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posted August 29, 2008 at 2:49 pm

from one lazy person to another, i hear your plea about getting up early on a sat. however that is def not necessary. the union square green market often has booths open past 5 on mon, wed, and fri, if you have a traditional 9-5 job (fri would be your best bet for that). but on sat its fair game until 5 or 6 even 7 in these high produce months.
the problem most people have with going organic or local is the idea that they have to sacrifice and give up in order to eat that way. def not so. you gain so much more by eating local and you don’t have to go whole hog right away.
now would be a perfect time to start checking out the green market (perhaps around 1-2pm on sat) and just see what they have there. look on your grocery list, and just buy what you see that you would normally get from the supermarket. the idea is just to supplement as opposed to completely replace in order to ease into it.
now imagine that instead of going inside a supermarket, picking produce that may/or may not be ripe, getting swayed into buying a few extra products (ooo cookies), waiting in the slowest line…instead you go outside, look around for the best produce at the best price, get to see some weird fruits or vegetables, every few booths is practically a flower garden with all the potted plants, usually no lines, just pick what you want to buy then give them money, maybe a sample here or there. which would you rather do?
1. quality
2. cheaper in the long run
3. grocery shopping becomes less of a chore
4. more time outside, more social interaction
5. less fuel used and less pesticides and chemicals in the earth and in your body
easing your way into local:
1. supplement at first
2. find a green market near you or your work for easy access
3. check out the info stand to see what’s in season
4. talk to some of the stand owners. sometimes the farmers are there, and you can learn a lot.
also someone recommended omnivore’s dilemma. def a good read for info on four different types of meals. also there is actually a green market cookbook that gives you recipes based on what’s in season. put together by joel patraker and joan schwartz. even if you don’t cook its got plenty of pics and lots of info and what to buy when.
basically just try it out. no harm done. you can always go back to the supermarket. it’ll def still be there.

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posted August 29, 2008 at 3:03 pm

The Union Square farmer’s market isn’t the only place in New York where you can get local produce. Join a CSA and you’ll always know you are eating produce that’s local, in season, and usually organic.
It’s good for you, for the earth, for the community.

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posted August 29, 2008 at 3:07 pm

There are lots of CSAs in the New York area — I just included that one link as an example. Here are a couple more:

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Ethan Nichtern

posted August 29, 2008 at 3:11 pm

I’m reading Omnivore’s Dilemma right now!
Don’t tell me how it ends!
By the way, it looks like John McCain thinks women are truly dumb. Thanks John!

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posted August 29, 2008 at 4:04 pm

localvore: thanks. i’m going to try it this week. and maybe learn how to actually cook vegetables while i’m at it!
you guys are all awesome. Greg Zwahlen: defs going to read omnivore’s dilemma as soon as i finish this interminable garcia marquez novel i’m into. perhaps a local-food party (after our white party, of course) can be in the cards for the idp?

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