Thursday, October 24, 2013

Locavore's footprint

We've been trying, for the past several years, to eat more
local, healthy food. We haven't yet tried the 100-mile diet challenge, or anything like that. As we've mentioned here on an almost weekly basis, we've been getting weekly Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares from the Women's Environmental Institute Farm at Amador Hill. The round-trip drive has added to our carbon footprint, but it's been considerably less than the 1,500 to 2,500 "food miles" traveled from farm to table for non-local (big box?) foods. Another major source of our food has been the Mississippi Market Coop in St. Paul. (Which, in the Winter, offers too many out-of-season fruits from South America for my comfort.) The trip to the coop is usually combined with several other errands, mostly entertainment related, so that carbon foot print is spread over several categories. Some of our food (mostly the processed/packaged variety) comes from a local big box or small box grocery store. We've been pleased to note some increase in both the source identification and the local sourcing of a number of items in each of these venues. When eating out, locally sourced is a major screening criteria in picking a restaurant. Finally, we've added harvesting our pears, gleaning crab apples, and, this year, planted some apple trees and harvested chokeberries. Next year may lead to the addition of one or two bee hives and, perhaps, more shopping at farmer's markets instead of a CSA share.

photo of back yard pear products
back yard pear products          © harrington

Is this behavior going to make a dent in our climate change problems? Admittedly, not if we're the only family in the county trying to eat locally. But the local and organic food sectors are major growth elements in today's economy. So, not only do we get better tasting produce, we've reduced our total food miles considerably, we've enhanced the local economy instead of sending our profits to Bentonville, and, we've enjoyed responding to the challenge of getting creative with finding tasty, healthy ways to use fresh produce.

photo of jars of chokeberry jelly
chokeberry jelly             © harrington

My Minnesota is rapidly approaching its 365th daily posting. We missed a few days last Summer while we were in the hospital. Over the next year, we think we'll keep the local focus but try to talk more about sustainable living, especially in the country, resiliant and restorative development, and, hopefully, rural arts and how these pieces can come together as part of a rural sustainability and economic development strategy. For now, let's enjoy Don Thompson's poem October, it seems to fit the weather and the season quite well.

October

By Don Thompson


I used to think the land
had something to say to us,
back when wildflowers
would come right up to your hand
as if they were tame.

Sooner or later, I thought,
the wind would begin to make sense
if I listened hard
and took notes religiously.
That was spring.

Now I’m not so sure:
the cloudless sky has a flat affect
and the fields plowed down after harvest
seem so expressionless,
keeping their own counsel.

This afternoon, nut tree leaves
blow across them
as if autumn had written us a long letter,
changed its mind,
and tore it into little scraps. 

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