Can “Going Local” Save the World?

Locally grown means better food. My friend, John, got a job this week. I know this because from the onset of his unemployment, he's remained steadily committed to his blog, “The View From the Middle (Class).” In it, he candidly shares his daily struggles - keeping focused on the big picture while seeking gainful employment.

Most remarkable was that he found a local job. He’ll be working in support of his local community as a computer programmer, contributing to the systems foundational to this virtual life. Just more evidence that we are increasingly connected - John’s public announcement reached me almost a thousand miles away in only a matter of minutes.

Technology connects and sustains relationships but how often does it truly pay the bills? How can we simultaneously connect globally while remaining locally inter-dependent? From my perspective, there are some commodities that are best kept local.

I spend a good deal of time each day influenced by the global economy. The news media and my immediate reality are often worlds apart. Quite often I’m left feeling like a hostage of the huge corporations that control our communications, our media, and our food. So, I challenge myself to take small steps every day to shift my focus back to my immediate environment, the place I have the most influence.

Recently, I joined a CSA, a local farm offering Community Supported Agriculture, providing neighbors with fresh, local, and seasonal vegetables. Bloomfield Farms is only a few miles from my home, and they deliver to my town’s new “Food Shed” set up by a neighbor who’s agreed to sponsor the program. I was thrilled to begin eating food grown in my neighborhood. But, I wasn’t prepared for the depth of the journey. Each box is its own adventure.

This week, I picked up my veggie box for the first time. Taking it home, after opening it, inspecting it, and washing every single leaf, the variety and the novelty of the included heirloom vegetables surprised me. I instantly researched the different varieties and investigated new recipes.

Then, I got the email enclosed with a rich commentary and mini-lesson on heirloom vegetable varieties and links to ideas for preparation, along with a sincere invitation to come to the farm and have a more intimate experience with locally grown food.

As a lover of good food, I was immediately charmed and sent an email thanking these wonderful neighbors for what they are doing to bring good food to my little corner of the world. My reward was a swift personal response filled with more information and another invitation.

I’ve committed to my new CSA for many reasons:

New Foods New Recipes

This week I discovered several simple new recipes to use for new chard and kale varieties. I learned that cooking kale slowly brings out an earthy sweetness. Given the health benefits of these winter vegetables, by combining the dark leafy greens with lively quinoa, our meals were richer and more flavorful.

Know Who Grows Your Food

My brief introduction to the faces of Bloomfield Farms has left me wanting more. Taking the time to understand their philosophies on heirloom farming gave me a greater appreciation of their commitment and passion, which seeps into the food they grow. I plan to take a tour of the farms in the next couple of weeks and meet my farmers face to face.

Harmonize With the Seasons

Our modern grocery stores bring us food from all seasons on demand. There's a theory that eating food in season helps regulate the body's natural immune system, as well as deliver nutrients necessary for a balanced life.

Pass to Future Generations 

Preserving heirloom foods for our children and those beyond is essential to our long-term survival. Our choices of food varieties are dwindling, which is actually creating a frightening trend of food extinction. Seed banks are now popping up everywhere, and with an approaching GMO crisis, we have every right to be concerned. Heirloom foods generally taste better and of the heirloom tomatoes, I've yet to find a favorite. I've all but abandoned the hybridized, round, and gooey tomatoes from the grocery store. They just have no flavor. Besides, have you ever heard of a German Pink Tomato?

Sitting here in my kitchen, I discover that small actions have the potential to make big impacts. What would life be like if I lived completely local, channeling most of my money into my local economy? How would my life and those around me be affected? I'm determined to find out and embark on a journey to uncover the opportunities to affect change within my little corner of the world.