Eating Local is Not Convenient
April 25, 2010 § 1 Comment
At 8 yesterday morning my boyfriend walks into my bedroom and asks me if I want to go to the city market, I hear the rain, mumbled something, and rolled over back into a blissful sleepy time place. Thus blowing my chance to get a bunch of cheap local food for the week. I am pretty lucky because I am banking on the fact there are other resources. I am hoping the satellite markets are opening this week and I am probably going to have to rely on the life saver that is Relay Foods for a bigger order. I then proceeded to go run errands and stop at one of my favorite burger places where I partook in the consumption of a DOUBLE cheeseburger, that was not only delicious but convenient too. Here in lies the problem of the industrial food complex, it is way way way more convenient than local and sustainable food, and unless things change it always will be. Local food won’t become mainstream until it becomes easier for the consumer. It is very similar to what went on with organic products, their loyal customer base grew and grew and grew, but it wasn’t until large chains started carrying organic products that a whole new demographic made organic choices, because buying a whole flat of Stonyfield Yogurt at Sam’s is just as easy and cost efficient as buying a flat of Yoplait. However the problem is that this model won’t work for local food, because these large chains are a big part of the industrial food complex and something that the local food movement at it’s core, is against. The fact that large industry has in the past played such a key role in the success of food movements and food products is why the costly part of the local food movement is actually establishing strong local food systems that can serve communities; because each community has to tailor its own system to fit their resources and needs to make it work. So in order for people to commit to eating local the community that they live in has to do it first. If you think about it, this role of the community makes perfect sense, because supporting local community members in selling food to other local community members, keeps money in the local economy, and lots of people benefit from that. I will be the first to admit it’s no easy feat to change the way an individual eats not to mention an entire community but it is possible, and by combating convenience it will in turn combat price. Communities can take small and large steps to increase convenience and local food consumption in their community.
Increase the places where local food is sold by:
* Creating a variety of farmers markets spread throughout the week . I would be ideal to have a market or many markets that are available everyday, like a grocery store. In medium to large communities it helps to have multiple locations to increase access.
* Create partnerships and incentives for small grocers to carry food from local farms.
*Create resource for local food to be sourced by restaurants, here in Charlottesville we have something called the local food hub, which dedicates a large portion of its time to coordinating and delivering local food to many of the area restaurants, making it no harder for the restaurants to serve local food than it is to serve things off a cysco truck.
* Create a network of local farms and consumers so community members could easily identify the local resources they have.
Increase access to local food for ALL community members.
It’s a sad fact that the poorest members of a community often have the least resources to fresh food, many do not even have a real grocery store in their neighborhood. It is important to think about increasing access to local food for low income citizens when building a local food system. This could be accomplished by ensuring that there is a market or vendor within reasonable distances to low income neighborhoods that is selling their products at a reasonable price(because gauging low income people for convenience is NOT a solution.) Public transportation should include markets in its plan, providing ways to actually get to the market. Vendors should have the resources to and be encouraged to take forms government assistance like EBT cards and food stamps.