Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: In Search of the Wild Locavore - Eating Locally

Monday, May 05, 2008

In Search of the Wild Locavore - Eating Locally

Locavore - Oxford Word Of The Year 2007 - coined two years ago by a group of four women in San Francisco who believed that local residents should try to eat only food grown or produced within a 100-mile radius.

I have just recently discovered (thanks to Progressive Alaska) the ADN-affiliated blog "AK Root Cellar". Their latest post announced that Saturday was the first Farmer's Market of the season. I was so happy to find that I now have a place to go for information. In past years, it was difficult to know the correct number or who had the latest-best information on the Farmer's Market. Everyone kept trying to point me to the Saturday Market, which is NOT where I generally go. (They make a ton of money at that Market yet refuse to pay the musicians/performers...but that's another blog post.) I eventually find the right folks and made the Farmer's Market my weekly ritual. Alaska has wonderful vegetables and I look forward to them again.

I also read an excellent article there from April 30th, "Why Can't We Buy Local Meat in the Grocery Store?" It's an excellent post describing a tour of three ranches in the Valley that sell bison, elk, and grass-fed beef. Yet, because the State no longer employs a meat inspector, the only way Alaskans can enjoy that meat is to buy it "on-the-hoof" and get it slaughtered at the only USDA-approved facility (in Palmer). Once that is done, it is illegal to re-sell it.

Back in February, I posted the story about the 143 pounds of recalled beef and the hideous video of the cattle that were unable to stand properly (hint: symptom of Mad Cow) that were still going for slaughter and public consumption IN THE U.S.!!!

THIS ALONE should enrage people enough to make sure that Alaskans have safe meat and Alaskan ranchers have local places to sell it.

As stated in AK Root Cellar:

If we want access to local meat and can’t afford to buy a whole animal, we need to contact our local representatives. They need to sponsor a bill, on our behalf, requesting a re-opening of the position for state meat inspector housed within the Division of Ag. Re-creating this position would allow the state to re-invest our ranchers and would be supporting the development of our renewable resources.
Locate your Senators and State Representatives and contact them with this information. I'd send the info to the Governor as well. (I plan to, now that she knows me *cheesy grin*) I would think this is an excellent expenditure of any extra oil money Alaska is receiving.


Snowshoe posted a comment on the AK Root Cellar "Local Meat" story after I was already working on this post:

A more logical and economical method of getting a meat inspector onto the ranches around the state would be for the DEC to contract with local large animal veterinarians and pay the local vets to do the on-site inspections. The budget for one inspector, housed in Anchorage or Palmer, would be huge, just because of travel expenses.

The state and USDA/APHIS already contract our local vets to do BSE and CWD testing and the state vet has our local vets doing Johne's Disease testing and herd risk management. I don't think it would be too onerous to get our vets trained to be USDA certified meat inspectors. If someone thinks it would be a conflict of interest to have a vet who has a doctor/client relationship with a stockgrower do the inspections, the regs could stipulate that a vet who doesn't have a relationship with the stockgrower would have to do the inspections.

Anyway, we would *love* to be able to sell our grass fed, natural beef to people by-the-cut or by the freezer pack, and be able to market to local stores and restaurants. Current regs forbid that. Help us change the regs, so you can buy healthy, locally-grown food for your families!

-- from a member of the Fox River Cattlemen's Association
That proposal needs to go to the Governor.


By the way, we do have a fledgling organization starting - the Last Frontier Locavores. I'm including them on my Alaska blog list and they could use lots of support. Perhaps we could get a year-round local grower program happening up here if enough of us support it!

Top Twelve Reasons to Eat Locally:

1) Freshness. Locally-grown organic fruits and vegetables are usually harvested within 24 hours of being purchased by the consumer. Produce from California can't be that fresh.

2) Taste. Produce picked and eaten at the height of freshness tastes better.

3) Nutrition. Nutritional value declines, often dramatically, as time passes after harvest. Because locally-grown produce is freshest, it is more nutritionally complete.

4) Purity. Eighty percent of American adults say they are concerned about the safety of the food they eat. They worry about residues of pesticides and fungicides. These materials are not permitted in an organic production system either before or after harvest.

5) Regional Economic Health. Buying locally grown food keeps money within the community. This contributes to the health of all sectors of the local economy, increasing the local quality of life.

6) Variety. Organic farmers selling locally are not limited to the few varieties that are bred for long distance shipping, high yields, and shelf life. Often they raise and sell wonderful unusual varieties you will never find on supermarket shelves.

7) Soil Stewardship. Soil health is essential for the survival of our species. Conventional farming practices are rapidly depleting topsoil fertility. Creating and sustaining soil fertility is the major objective for organic growers.

8) Energy Conservation. Buying locally grown organic foods decreases dependence on petroleum, a non- renewable energy source. One fifth of all petroleum now used in the United States is used in Agriculture. Organic production systems do not rely upon the input of petroleum derived fertilizers and pesticides and thus save energy at the farm. Buying from local producers conserves additional energy at the distribution level.

9) Environmental Protection. Soil erosion; pesticide contamination of soil, air, and water; nitrate loading of waterways and wells; and elimination of planetary biodiversity are some of the problems associated with today's predominate farming methods. Organic growers use practices that protect soil, air, and water resources; and that promote biodiversity.

10) Cost. Conventional food processes don't reflect the hidden costs of the environmental, health and social consequences of predominate production practices- of, for instance, correcting a water supply polluted by agricultural runoff, or obtaining medical treatment for pesticide induced illness suffered by farmers or consumers. When these and other hidden costs are taken into account, as they should be, locally grown organic foods are seen clearly for the value they are, even if they cost a few pennies more.

11) A Step Toward Regional Food Self Reliance. Dependency on far away food sources leaves a region vulnerable to supply disruptions, and removes any real accountability of producer to consumer. It also tends to promote larger, less diversified farms that hurt both the environment and local economies/communities. Regional food production systems, on the other hand, keep the food supply in the hands of many, providing interesting job and self-employment opportunities, and enabling people to influence how their food is grown.

12) Passing on the Stewardship Ethic. When you buy locally produced organic food you cannot help but raise the consciousness of your friends and family about how food buying decisions can make a difference in your life and the life of your community; and about how this basic act is connected to planetary issues.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another option is subscribe to your local Community Supported Agriculture. Many of those who do the Markets let you subscribe to them. You pay a fee, but imo it is worth it. We subscribed to Arctic Organics this year.

As for the meat issue, YES! I agree we need to have a change.

5/05/2008 4:28 PM  
Blogger CelticDiva said...

I had heard about Arctic Organics and plan to talk to them this Saturday at the Market! I can't wait!

RCM, you need to head over to the Locavores so you can join the site and post.

I just put them in my blog list!

5/05/2008 4:35 PM  
Blogger Grimbles said...

I honestly don't understand the people who don't want to take advantage of local produce. Or, why your state government would have laws that, from my reading, basically screw local meat producers =/

But yeah, local food is the best. Being in Australia, you can instantly tell an orange from California compared to a local one. Why would you want to eat something that's been packed in sulphur or something similar for months on end? Not in season locally? Eat what is!

The unfortunate answer seems to be that so many people have had their taste buds mummified by insane amounts of salt that they can't tell the difference.

I'm not sure how things are in the States, but you mention the hidden cost. One of the most significant things we notice here is that imported/stored, out of season produce is insanely more expensive, either from shipping or storage. Around this time of year (Autumn here) we can get table grapes at $3-4/kilo. ($1.60-2.10/lb, roughly, I guess >.>) but a few months from now it shoots to about $15 or even $20. Yet another reason to eat local, and eat fresh, IMO.

Save the international stuff for the intertubes...

**Wall of text crits you for 9367**

5/06/2008 7:47 AM  
Blogger CelticDiva said...

So Grim, move to Alaska and run for office! We could use you!

You'd probably get elected based on your accent alone! *grin*

5/06/2008 8:23 AM  
Blogger E. Ross said...

Locavore - what a great word!

I've also heard that eating locally available foods in season can help to reduce the effects of seasonal allergies.

Thanks for teaching me a new word.

5/06/2008 11:45 AM  
Blogger Grimbles said...

No, see, I'm left-leaning for an Australian. And given that our political spectrum is much more to the left generally speaking than in the US, my place on the spectrum there would likely be somewhere between 'FAA No Fly List' and 'Gitmo' >.>

5/06/2008 7:01 PM  
Blogger CelticDiva said...

Ummm...have you read my blog?

5/06/2008 7:56 PM  
Blogger Grimbles said...

No, why would I? Commenting blind is much more fun <.<

From what I can tell you'd be considered only slightly left of centre out here. The most 'radical' thing would be considered your political and social awareness, not the leaning.

Perhaps it's just right wing nutters clinging to the with us or against us thing, but the general reaction I've got from... wow, almost a decade of cross-pacific intertubing, has been that I must have posters of Stalin on my wall and dream of the Glory of The Motherland.

I think that's got a lot to do with why the rest of the world finds the US so scary. The balance of power in Australian politics sits slightly to the right of what we would consider 'centrist,' but someone talking out against gun control, supporting the death penalty and declaring abortion - regardless of any health issues - a mortal sin (which 'we need' the death penalty for) would be seen as a fringe looney over here, not a potential head of state. >.>

Maybe that doesn't make sense... Ok, what would be perceived as centrist in the US is round about where the Aussie equivalent of Bush&Co are. Then again, our political parties are freaky. The dominant conservative party is called the Liberal Party *facepalm*

5/06/2008 9:46 PM  

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