andrew schneider investigates

May 30, 2008

Good food? Grow it or buy it locally

Filed under: Food labeling,Food Safety,Good food,Sustainable food — Andrew Schneider @ 17:01

I got an e-mail this morning from Di Rayburn in Berkshire, England, where she says that there is now a big push toward healthy eating, buying locally grown food and starting your own garden, all, she says, to cut down its carbon footprint.

This been an increase in applying for “allotments,” which are small plots of ground rented cheaply from local town councils where townsfolk can grow their own veggies like the Brits and Yanks both did with their victory gardens during “the big war.”

These small garden plots lost popularity after the war, Di says, “but now, with a (UK) health service that believes in preventative measures before serious health problems can kick in, there is a push for healthy eating, and allotments are experiencing a comeback.


Locally grown?

“Freezing, pickling or bottling the excess, means you save a lot of money through the year and when you pick your own and bring it home to cook, you know it’s chock full of vitamins and minerals due to its freshness” said the foodie from across the Atlantic.

“The ‘old’ ways are worth taking a look at occasionally,” said Mrs. Rayburn.

If you have no time, space or interest in growing your own, there are at least 4,000 farmers’ markets now operating across the country.

Greeenlightmagazine.com says two of the best farmers markets in the country are in the Pacific Northwest. Here’s their descriptions:

Portland Farmers Market, Oregon – Troll the stalls for Dungeness crab, farmed abalone, wild mushrooms, and organic cranberries, and the acclaimed breads and pastry from Pearl Bakery, made with sustainably grown ingredients, including Pacific Northwest wheat and dairy. Afterward, drop the kids off for a cooking class, while you stop by the “Taste the Place” booth to learn about “underappreciated produce” and what to do with it.

Seattle “U-District” Market – Seattle’s largest neighborhood market is “farmers only,” meaning it’s limited to food products. It hosts more than 50 regional growers who gather to sell everything from free-range eggs and hard cider, to hazelnuts, wild huckleberries and mushrooms, to grass-fed goat meat.

There is wide agreement that if you shop at a market where the food is actually grown by local farmers and not just unpacked by them, the quality is premium, but so are the prices.

Well, maybe not any more.

According to the Market Free News, earlier this year economic students at Seattle University tallied prices over a two-week period at two groceries � Whole Foods and QVC � and at the farmers market in Seattle’s University District. To the surprise of many, the prices for the locally produced produces from the farmers cost less than at the two chain stories. For example, a pound of fruits and veggies at the farmers market was $2.37, at Whole Foods $2.59 and at QVC, $2.97.

But just keep your eyes open for the rare shifty farmer from Wenatchee unpacking boxes that say “Grown in Guatemala.”

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