Buying local, sometimes easier said than done

Published 4:47pm Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Two weeks ago I was participating in a discussion of how to design invitations for an upcoming public meeting. The proposed invitation contained the line “Light refreshments will be served” and one member of our group suggested that we change that line to “Local refreshments will be served” since the refreshments will be provided by local vendors.
Even though we do our best to buy locally whenever possible, there is no way that we can say that what we have is actually “local.” The hard wheat to make the bread at our local bakery comes from Montana; the green peppers and carrots purchased at Ward’s in the wintertime may come from Central America. The magazine that we bought with the groceries is probably made from trees cut down in Finland or Siberia. For the past 40 years our purchasing choices have expanded exponentially thanks to a global economy, one that we now say has robbed us of many of our local choices.
Those of us who are older should be able to remember the fresh vegetable options for our wintertime dinner table: kale, cabbage, winter squash, rutabaga, onions, cooked greens, white potatoes and sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, brussell sprouts and turnips. On a special occasion we might have a wedge of iceberg lettuce topped with thousand island dressing.
Then cheap oil came along, and with it came all those delicious fruits and vegetables from Florida and California and Central America: mangos, kiwis, fancy lettuces, fresh peppers, cukes, tomatoes, avocados, cantaloupes – available all year long. I venture to say that those of us born after 1950 have never even thought about the fact that what we now eat for supper in January was not an option for our grandparents, who had no choice but to shop, and eat, locally.

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