On eating locally

It has been many years now since we began our gradual shift to organic foods. We have never been “hardcore” organic shoppers, but when items were not excessively priced or difficult to find, we prefer that option. We have felt good about the implications for both our health and that of the planet. In recent years, other concerns have arisen, such as the issue of fair trade for items such as sugar, chocolate, coffee, and tea. But perhaps no food-related issue has been so politicized in recent years as the subject of eating locally, due particularly to writer Michael Pollan and to the rise of the hundred-mile diet.

We have come to feel pretty strongly about this issue, although not to the extent of adopting the hundred-mile diet in our lives (we couldn't give up chocolate or European cheese!). However, we shop extensively at the local farmer's market, as well as a plethora of other stores, and have found our comfort level on the issue. For us, it is a rather haphazard approach; for instance, we only buy local berries, so fresh in the winter is out (although several local producers sell their berries frozen in the winter). We are fortunate here in British Columbia to be able to buy hothouse tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers throughout most of the year, but for the few months when they are not available, we stay largely with the canned versions. On the other hand, we do buy certain produce items from California right through the winter, broccoli and cauliflower, for instance.

Eating locally gives us a stronger connection to the changing seasons. We can enjoy the bounties of summer, followed by the rich delights of squash and apples in the fall, and celebrate the return of the local tomatoes and peppers in the early spring. It brings a certain rhythm to our cooking and eating that is satisfying, and supports our local agriculture as well!

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