easy food

[written 05/03/06]

1. What’s your definition of local for this challenge?

i’ll follow the 100-mile radius most elc-ers are doing. using a handy-dandy map calculator, i get this:

  1. What exemptions will you claim?

anything already in my pantry, including spices and oils. once a week, up to one meal can be non-local. and that doesn’t mean half of one meal and half of another equals one, or any other kinds of silly fractions/ideas. lastly, if i can’t find basic flour or rice that’s local, then i can buy it, always trying to get it from as nearby as possible.

  1. What is your personal goal for the month?

my goal is to eat as locally as i can – aiming high for around 90% local food. additionally, i want to prioritize making a lot of my basic food – like yogurt, bread, cheese (!), growing herbs, and more. i also plan on reading a lot – both articles and blogs online, and books galore (i have a stack of them waiting for me at the library already).

in general, i want to learn more about where my food comes from, how my choices change once i learn that, and how possible is it to eat responsibly and well in one of the biggest cities in the world. also, i want to be inspired by the changes people are making in their food choices, the poltical ramifications of these choices, and what next steps i can take after the challenge is over.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

so, first things first:

after trying to find a good local community supported agriculture (csa) program and finding only one (surprise, surprise. sigh, l.a.) that is a little spotty with their website and has pretty distant pickup locations*, i decided to go with a local organic delivery group. choosing from a few different places was easy – love delivery, particularly after reading this bit

Eight to nine months out of every year at least 80-90% of all our produce comes from within 100 miles of Los Angeles. In the winter season we do have to count on other areas of the world for the variety that we like to offer. Yet still keeping in mind with the seasons involved. If you want to stay strictly local all you need to do is let us know.

i talked with the owner and was informed it’d be hard to make my box entirely local without sacrificing variety. since i’m trying just one sample box for now, i said let’s just see what this box looks like. this is what i got not twenty minutes ago:

1 1/2 lbs broccoli – from salinas, about 300 miles away
1 1/4 lbs zukes
1 1/2 lbs bananas – probably mexico
1 avocado
1 3/4 lbs yellow squash
2 red bartlett pears
2 oranges
2 red delicious apples
1 lb carrots – from new jersey
2 tomatos – from mexico
2 lbs of beets with greens
1 1/4 lbs leeks – from mexico
1 bag of mesclun mix
2 garlic bulbs – from new jersey
1 bag of celery – from pure pacific
1 carnation (nice touch)

although the produce is beautiful and tempting, all organic, and the perfect quantity for the next week or two, i’m thinking some of the other stuff that was unlabeled was probably also not local, though it’s impossible to be sure. it’s disappointing that there’s any non-local stuff in the box – much less practically half the box! -, since i specified and then clarified i wanted only local food. there’s a bunch of farms listed – cal-organic farms, pure pacific, organics unlimited – that i need to research and see how close by they are. .. ok, just researched and in general they’re not close at all and are giant farms. hmph. ah well.

what this means is that though the ease of produce delivery is great, definitely the best choice would really be joining a csa, then going to a farmer’s market, and then, lastly, choosing organic delivery. i’m thinking the farmer’s market this sunday in hollywood will be a much better shot for local food.

(* i should clarify that my main reason for not picking tierra miguel farms is mostly because they’re a little too far and their pickup locations/times don’t work for me this quarter. everything i’ve heard about them sounds excellent, though, so for those a bit closer, this would be a great choice, i think.)