Gathering Local, Staying VocalSunday, May 22, 2011
A couple of years ago, Forbes published an interesting piece: “The Locavore Myth: When Buying From Nearby Farmers Won’t Save the Planet.” Here’s the first paragraph.
Buy local, shrink the distance food travels, save the planet. The locavore movement has captured a lot of fans. To their credit, they are highlighting the problems with industrialized food. But a lot of them are making a big mistake. By focusing on transportation, they overlook other energy-hogging factors in food production.
The article focuses on the EnviroCommunist ideals behind shopping locally – that is, “saving the planet” via made-up carbon footprint contrivances. Some of us localists (I prefer that term) – like me – reject that babble, yet we have very defined reasons for undergoing modern-day hunting and gathering close to home. The problems with industrialized food that concern me are not the size of the carbon footprints, but the size of the Big Government-Big Agra-Big Special Interest footprint that is all over the so-called “food” churned out by the industrial food machine. Americans have become so far removed from a lifestyle of being self-sufficient, resourceful, and accountable for their own health and wellness that they willingly turn over all of the decisions to chemists and bonus-driven CEOs, and their friends in congress and government agencies who create laws favorable to their businesses.
For that reason, the greatest example of the free market for food, in my mind, is a sort of localist-real foodist way of life, where people – such as me – reject the processed food supply that has left Americans irresponsibly obese and sick. You know that local food movements are much too “free” when the heavy and very visible hand of Big Government is consistently smacking down small farmers, farmer’s markets, raw milk sellers, and every other small seller that has not conformed to a zillion regulations backed up by hundreds of pieces of paper that must precede any attempt at making a living by voluntarily transacting with willing customers who desire their products.
I get much of my food this way – by connecting with local farmers and other miscellaneous manufacturers and sellers of fresh foods. I rarely see a grocery store anymore, and when I do, it is usually for very basic items. The first photo below is a typical take for me on a Saturday morning at Detroit’s Eastern Market. This market, one of the biggest and best in North America, has become very “radicalized” over the last couple of years with the availability of prime specialty goods such as grass-fed meats, raw milk products, and as always, the great products from the Amish and the Mennonites who come to the market to sell directly to the consumer.
The items above include grass-fed pork products (ribs, pork steaks, sausage, and ground pork); handmade, smoked beef sticks; raw cheese curds; raw cheddar cheese; raw, grass-fed butter bought directly from the Amish farmer; fresh-picked asparagus; spinach picked from the field the day before my purchase; baby bok choy; homemade beef jerky; and granola sweetened with homegrown stevia, a product that I also purchased from the Amish. Being paleo in my diet, I typically don’t eat oatmeal or other grains, but I will buy the Amish, stevia-sweetened granola during the summer as snacks during my endurance activities (backpacking, cycling, etc.).
This lady specializes in making cheese, only from raw milk.
From my favorite pork farmers who are local and come to the market to sell their goods.
The Amish grow their own stevia plants because even they are aware that something is amiss in America in terms of sugar madness, and therefore consumers desire and are looking for products with stevia.
This is the Amish raw, grass-fed butter. No butter from the industrial food supply can come close in terms of color, texture, and glorious taste. Yet the anti-raw milk police are still defending the interests of the big producers by cracking down on the little guys who give their customers exactly what they desire – fresh, unpasteurized products.
Gathering my goods locally allows me to talk to the producers and farmers about the ingredients they use and how they produce the food, or, we talk about their animals and farming methodology. I can get lambs, hogs, quarters of beef, emu, buffalo, chickens, turkeys, free-range eggs, lard, and stewing hens. Yet somehow, I am supposed to defer to Cargill and General Foods to manufacture my meals so I don’t have to lift a finger (except to pull out a cereal bowl or hit the microwave timer)? Thanks … but, I’ll pass. I have this strange way of liking to be in charge of me – also known as doing your own shit on your own (fiat) dollar.
At the end of the day, there was a meal of the grass-fed pork chops from Melo Farms, grilled cubanelle peppers and tomatoes, fingerling potatoes, and, yes, the melted raw butter for dippin’ my pork. And … it has been years since I had cereal or a microwave meal.