Celebrating Earth Day by Eating ONLY Local Food…Well, Almost! (Kids Cook Monday)
|April 22, 2013||Posted by Stacy under Local food|
I wouldn’t exactly call myself an earth mama. Let’s just say that I gave up the idea of composting when I found out about the bugs. But I do care a whole lot about the environment, which is one reason that I’ve been making an effort to buy more locally and regionally produced food.
Yes, I have jumped on the local food bandwagon–but not without doing my homework first. I love the idea of reducing greenhouse gases by buying food that doesn’t have to be shipped thousands of miles. I am all for fresher, more nutrient rich produce and eating what’s in season. I want to support nearby farmers to aid our local economy. But before signing on, I had questions about what exactly “local” meant.
Here’s the thing: In a perfect world, all the food coming from small local growers would be produced without pesticides, GMO seeds and feed, and chemical fertilizers. All the animals would be treated humanely and not given antibiotics, growth hormones and other drugs. But unfortunately, it isn’t always the case.
So how do you know whether locally grown food is safer, healthier and better for the earth than that mass produced on large factory farms? To find out, I consulted the manager of our local food co-op, who admitted that there are no easy answers. Looking for food that is local and organic is your best bet. If a product isn’t labeled organic, it’s important to find out what is being used for fertilizer, pest control, and so on. You can find answers by talking to the growers themselves. Time consuming, yes, but necessary if you want to avoid dangerous chemicals.
Buying from a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), food co-op or farmer’s market can help ensure quality. When a grower is part of a community that relies on their reputation, there is peer pressure to maintain certain standards. And oftentimes, a farmer will be vetted before being allowed to join the group.
24 Hours of Local Food: Our Earth Day Menu
In case you didn’t know, today is Earth Day. To mark the occasion, my family has set a goal of eating only local food for the entire day. About a week and a half ago, my kids and I sat down and planned the menu, which created an opportunity to discuss how eating local can benefit the earth and our bodies. I ordered as many ingredients as I could from our local food co-op. Certain items (such as Parmesan cheese and olive oil) weren’t available. I think we did a pretty good job but it was harder than I thought. Some of the farm-to-fork distances noted below may sound far, but the growing season has yet to start close to home. And as anyone who lives in the West knows, communities are spread out.
Locally made granola produced 8 miles from our house using local honey
Chopped apples grown 90 miles away
Milk from a small dairy 90 miles away that pastures its cows whenever weather permits. (Added bonus: The milk comes in a glass container!).
Smoothie made with frozen sweet red raspberries, blackberries and cherries grown 86 miles away
Kale chips made with organic lacinto kale grown 86 miles away
Quiche with whole-wheat crust (recipe from 100 Days of Real Food) made with eggs from free-range hens fed organic grain and legumes raised 174 miles away. I will be using Idaho Grain & Flour Mill whole-wheat pastry flour (wheat sourced 245 miles away) to make the crust.
Simple mixed green salad made with organic lettuce grown 7.5 miles away in the Sage School greenhouse
Oven-roasted organic Yukon potatoes grown 90 miles away
Apple pie made 90 miles away with local apples, organic whole-wheat flour, well water, local honey, cold-pressed safflower oil, organic cinnamon, sea salt and organic apple cider vinegar
What, if anything, are you doing to celebrate Earth Day? How do you feel about eating locally grown food? Please scroll down and leave a comment to chime in!