The other day, I was at the grocery store purchasing strawberries. I had two choices:
Choice A – I could pay $1.98 for a pint of strawberries that were grown south of the border. Choice B – I could pay $4.98 for a pint of strawberries that were grown organically in California.
What I didn’t see and what I was looking for was Choice C – I wanted a pint of strawberries that were grown organically, locally here in Utah. (Sometimes I have dreams of grandeur of jumping in my car, driving to the farm, and meeting the farmer who so lovingly grew them.)
I left the store frustrated without any strawberries. The silver lining? I knew I could buy my pint of organic, locally-grown strawberries at the farmers market on Saturday, which I did for $3.00.
Healthy – check,
Organic – check,
Success! (Plus I shook the hand of the farmer who grew them- score!)
However, this situation opened Pandora’s Box of questions. Here is the sequence of my thought process:
How long ago were those strawberries in the grocery store picked and just sitting around waiting to be processed and packaged? How many hands had touched those strawberries in that process? How much did it cost for those strawberries to sit there and wait to be loaded on to a truck? Hmmm… I am not liking where this is headed.
How many resources were used to transport those strawberries from south of the border or California – that is hundreds, if not thousands of miles of land to cover. They were probably moved by train, truck, boat-maybe. How much did it cost and how much time did it take to transport those strawberries? That couldn’t have been good for the environment.
How many people did it take to unload the trucks, trains, and boats, and move them into place until they could be placed on the shelves, where maybe a customer would pick it up and put it in their cart. When was that strawberry picked? Yuck!
Why is this a problem to begin with? Why do grocery stores not carry locally grown strawberries? Well obviously because no one is asking for them.
So where is the farmer in all of this? Why is he or she removed so far from the process? Why are farmers just sitting in their Ivory Towers watching the produce grow, while caring little about who they are selling to? They must be making a lot of money to not care about their consumers. I should be a farmer – that is where the money is!
That last series of thought couldn’t have been more wrong. For every dollar we spend on food, approximatley 16 cents goes to the farmer, who then pays 1 or 2 cents to their farm workers to help them run the production. The other 84 cents go towards the extensive route that food takes to get from the farm to the table.
So what is the answer?
I am pleased to share there are many options to not only eat healthy, but also support local food growers:
1. Purchase from farmers markets & farm stands: Make sure to check out our blog with a list of farmers markets in SLC and around the state or check out Utah’s Own website where they help people find quality local products, be stewards of the environment, and strengthen Utah’s economy.
2. Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and support the farmer directly.
3. If time is a concern, talk to your local grocer and let him or her know you are interested in seeing more locally grown & produced products in their stores.
Need a jumping off point?
Join Eat Local Week Sept 12-19
Join in the Eat Local Week activities, which includes eating local cooking classes, food shows, fall harvest celebrations, and conversations about eating local. Make sure to check out the Eat Local Week webpage resources. And don’t forget to take the Eat Local Challenge.
Information provided by Utah’s Own Utah Agriculture in the Classroom utah.agclassroom.org