While I have always been interested in eating locally, I haven't pursued it with as much passion as I could have. Sure, I get my beef, eggs, honey, and a few other things locally, and we grow a garden in the summer. But, I never really thought about how much food I was eating that wasn't local and what effect it could have on me and others to make an effort to eat more locally.
I just finished up a book that really made me stop and think. A lot. BLESSING THE HANDS THAT FEED US: What Eating Closer to Home Can Teach Us About Food, Community and Our Place on Earth is the kind of book you continue to think about long after you have read the last page. It has had a profound effect on how I look at local eating. Instead of just thinking of it as a good idea and a bonus when I do purchase locally, I now realize the amazing power and change that can happen from making conscious efforts to eat locally more (dare I say, MOST) of the time.
BLESSING THE HANDS THAT FEED US is written by Vicki Robin, who takes you on her self-made challenge to live for one month eating only food produced within a 10-mile radius of her home on Whidbey Island, in Puget Sound, Washington. You follow her week by week as she grapples with limits and learns lessons and discovers how eating closer to home brought her whole life closer to home as well. It’s not a new right way; it’s a new relationship with what is all around us – all the time. Next she asks a bigger question: “What if everyone did it?” Can “local food” make a dent in big food issues of hunger, justice, nutrition, obesity and illness? Her conclusion is yes! Relational eating – connected to place – and complementary food systems – revitalizing regional agriculture – can work almost anywhere and profoundly contribute to a healthy food future.
Also included in the book are delicious recipes inspired by eating locally and tips for you to start your own journey eating more locally. Not only is the book full of priceless knowledge, it is also incredibly inspiring. So, let me share some tips from Vicki to help you get started on adopting your own locally sourced diet! Remember, you can start small, but make sure you take that first step!
Eat Local in the new year! Three simple things you can do each week to help your local farmer.
1) Use the internet or the local world of mouth networks to find farmers in your area. Even in the winter you can do this so you have a plan for spring. I like http://eatlocalgrown.com but there are many that are more regionally focused.
2) Join at least one listserve that informs you about your farmer's issues and helps you understand the difference between industrial and local food. I like FoodTank, GraceCommunications, Greenhorns.
3) Donate to American Farmland Trust or more regional organizations committed to preserving farmland. In my region there is Puget Consumer Coop Farmland Trust. In CA there is Marin Farmland Trust (these names need to be confirmed but not time now). Young farmers want to farm, but they can't afford land prices when developers compete with them.