Monday, April 12, 2010

What local is

While we were in California we did a lot of grocery shopping- a couple of conventional groceries, some high end groceries, and 2 green groceries. I had decided to try to buy things that were local to California, partly to remind myself of the differences in growing seasons. I had forgotten that lemons grow in your backyard, and Strawberry season is in full swing by April, that in fact most of the strawberries at my Ithaca grocery store are shipped there from California.

So as I tried to remember what "local" was in the bay area, I noticed that the conventional stores had only minimal information, and you had to go hunting for it. One green grocery had the state or country posted on a sign near each kind of produce (Rhubarb from Mexico, eh? There went my plans for Strawberry Rhubarb Pie) I did pretty well rounding up California produce for our next meals (it is America's breadbasket after all)

Then we went to a store that listed the number of miles each fruit or veggie traveled to get to the store. That was when I realized that "California grown" food could come from 300 miles away! I managed to find a few things that were grown only 100 miles away, but the selection was much reduced. I began to remember that our CSA when we lived in the bay area was about that far from our home in Berkeley. I remembered that the only farm in Alameda county is some kind of historical agriculture preserve run by the parks department or something.

I try to shop local when I'm at home in Ithaca too. Both of my grocery stores have a little "local" sign they put on some produce, and when I can't find that I look for some shout-out to the fingerlakes region or New York State when possible. But often "local" means ithaca and its surrounds. The farm where I have my CSA is about 3 miles from my house, and we pass other farms on a drive of 10 miles in any direction. Local seems to be more... well... local where I live now.

But now I'm home and Strawberries won't be growing here for another month or so. And sadly, it is never lemon season in Ithaca.

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