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Is Eating Local the Best Choice? June 22, 2010

Posted by gfsa in Food Thoughts.

Those who say eating local is not always the best choice for the planet are forgetting one very important part of the equation: COMMUNITY. David Morris of AlterNet wrote this in 2007 (www.alternet.org). I AGREE!

I live my life and run my business on the premise that relationships and reciprocity are key to building strong, resilient, sustainable communities and citizens. I believe the local food movement is a community building act! Building friendship and relationships, reciprocity, interdependence and give and take is what the local food movement is all about! At Farmers markets, at local provider farm to gates, when you pick up your good food boxes, when you go to the CSA and pick up your share..at all of these you meet and talk and get to know people… it is there that the community building happens…I know I have experienced it! And it is a wonderful experience!

Way back 20 years ago as a student with my two sons living in Cincinnati I chose to shop each Saturday at Findlay Market (www.findlaymarket.org). I was skeptical of the American food system, even then! Because I went to the market regularly I got to know the providers, where they operated, their growing methods and indeed I found a community and met people there who became life-long friends. I even found a part-time job doling out vegetables. I got to know the ‘cheese man’ so well that at our going away party he had a T-shirt made and gave it to me and it said the ‘old gouda’ lady; old gouda was our favourite cheese that we picked up every week!

Now in my rural Alberta home I have found community through the three local farmers markets nearby and the farm to gate business of Spruce Park Ranch, just 5 km away from my home (www.spruceparkranch.ca). I can ride my bike there! Marilyn and Les at Spruce Park have eggs, meat, dried fruit, homemade home decor and during the summer they even have fresh organic veggies, all homegrown or sourced from from a neighbour. We have developed such a great relationship that Marilyn has even taught us how to raise sheep! Jack and I now buy two sheep yearly from Marilyn and raise them on our property. This is our fourth year to do that.Wow! My granddad was a sheep farmer and would be so proud! Not only do I now have confidence in the food we are eating, I have found new friends and new knowledge along the way Oh yes, Les and Marilyn are now clients of Jack’s – reciprocity and interdependence for sure. I like that!

So think beyond all the debates about ‘food miles’ or if this from AB has more nutrition than this from New Zealand. Don’t dwell on the cost, research is emerging showing that the cost is not the problem, it is the quantity we want to eat and the choices we make that are the problem! So choose to build community by being an active participant in your local food movement.

Building communities is our future. Building and strengthening rural communities and local farmers is key to that! So come on everyone let’s have more of this in Alberta. Support the farmers markets (www.albertamarkets.com) and the farms to gates (www.albertafarmfresh.com). Car pool, cycle; get out there and meet your providers! It is so much fun. You will make new friends, learn new things, you will be healthier and you will help build stronger rural communities as result! We need that!

Written by Susan Roberts



1. Agatha Jedrzejczyk - June 29, 2010

RECIPROCITY.What a beautiful word and not used at all! I have to check in dictionary and believe me, after living 18 years in Canada it not happens to often.I’m in food actions business years. I heard so many times: cooperation, capacity building, relationship building, sustainability and never reciprocity. Thank you for bringing the word RECIPROCITY to my vocabulary and attention. Let’s use it more! In speeches and action. RECIPROCITY is definitely needed in a community building act.

2. Get to Know Your Baker! « Basic Kneads - July 6, 2010

[…] around the province. I particularly liked a recent thought-provoking piece, ”Is Eating Local the Best Choice?“, which explores the community-building benefits of eating local, above and beyond the […]

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