Local Food Self-Reliance: Sexy
By Charlotte Squire – Editor of Happyzine
It’s Eco-Fest time in Charlotte Squire’s Nelson ‘hood and she’s thinking ‘local food reliance’.
This was my facebook entry, half an hour ago:
“Just bought my veggies from the community organic gardens on half HANDS (green dollars). That place rocks, they pick fresh greens on demand for customers. It’s just got this real feeling of community there. Since I’ve started thinking ‘buy local’ it’s changing the way I shop at the supermarket, it’s so nice to eat in season. They want to create a solar/biodiesel powered van that delivers the veggies around Golden Bay too. Way cool!”
Which then sparked me to write this blog. Why? Because I love our local community gardens, I love the thought of getting more and more self-reliant as a community, and I love to rave about green stuff that inspires me.
So what’s with the buy local thing? Why don’t more people do it? Is it because we revel in the sheer choice of all the international produce that a free market brings? Is it because the food’s cheaper when it’s imported in from china by the palet, by the thousand units? Is it because people simply don’t care that the food they buy from their local supermarket has traveled thousands of miles, is really old, and probably tastes very bland compared to its local, in season equivalent?
It makes sense on many levels to buy local – local business benefit; you can generally trust the people you’re buying from (sometimes we even know their names); the food tends to be fresher; often it’s more naturally produced; and there’s something special about eating that has pushed its way up through the same soil we live upon. It connects us back to the earth, and this is something that I think we’re hungry for as a culture.
Local food resiliency has been on my mind these last few weeks because it’s Eco Fest here in the top of the South Island, New Zealand. As part of this popular event, I was invited to give a talk about the Green Economy with another passionate speaker Laurence Boomert. At the end of our presentation I asked the group whether there was one key green goal they’d consider committing to, as a community, if we were to set a ten year goal.
Local food self-sufficiency was a strong idea amongst the group. There were other ideas being flagged, such as becoming largely organic as a region, and introducing composting toilets – of which both ideas really excite me. But the fact was that many people in the group that day were parents, so the most popular idea was also the most down to earth and practical one.
What do our lives tend to revolve around as parents? The kitchen. Food! Glorious food! I know I feel the obligation to keep the ‘larder stocked’ and the nutritious kai on hand for my family. So local food self reliance is a natural step forward for families who are already heading that way via veggie gardens, chickens, and perhaps fishing and hunting to keep the mouths fed.
It can be really interesting to head to the local supermarket, or shop, and wear your ‘buy local’ spectacles. Even in any organic shop it can change your perspective. Local food is often far more ‘alive’ though not always cheaper – which is often a deciding factor for people. Give it a go next time you go shopping, assess each item you buy in terms of its country or even community of origin, it’s a fascinating experience. One Nelson Freshchoice supermarket makes it really easy – they’ve created labeling specifically for locally grown produce. I’d love to see this become a more widely adopted practice nation-wide.
Check out their inspiring words:
“It just makes sense to obey the 200km radius rule and buy local – it reduces our carbon footprint, supports the local economy and ensures produce is market fresh when you walk in the door. We launched our 200km radius rule in 2006, and since then we have been buying the majority of our produce from within a 200km radius – not a problem given the incredible bounty available within the Nelson region!”
Hello! This is a supermarket to support! And they’ve provided a very inspiring model of what’s possible for other supermarkets.
It’s funny isn’t it, how ‘buy-local’ has become a sexy term, yet twenty years ago there was nothing sexy about it, we just had to buy local. And between you and I it felt kind of boring back then. Mind you, sometimes we don’t know how lucky we are, ’til things change.