Local Food

Every summer, the Golden farmer’s market opens in the lot next to the library, a few blocks from our house. Early in June the selections are somewhat limited, focusing mostly on the breads, canned items, herbs and spices, root crops, leaf veggies and fruits and veggies imported from Arizona. By the end of June, though, local produce becomes more available, then by late July and August we start getting the wonderful fresh fruit from Colorado’s west slope and local farms.

There is something magical about taking that first bite of tree-ripened fruit or a garden-fresh tomato. Short of growing your own, the farmer’s market comes about as close as you can get without driving a long way. (However, I do advocate going to the source — farms and farm stands and/or growing your own — if you get the chance.)

It’s not just the local fruits and veggies, though, that tempt a person’s taste buds. There are all kinds of local and regional things offered, often just seasonally. One booth has locally-made cheeses that are often exotic and unusual. Another has home-made wines and jams, and then there’s the various baked goods — quiches, strudels, and other pastries. The smoked meat guy always has some trout or salmon, not to mention various kinds of beef or pork. The honey booth boasts several flavors from local hives and often honey candy or pastries.

The bread booth always gets to me, and I have to use great discipline to limit how much I buy — the two of us can only eat so much bread. Of course, by this time of the summer, our freezer is already packed with extra loaves.

We also have many local dining — and drinking — options that have excellent food. If you keep an eye out on the specials, you’re almost always guaranteed a surprising treat.

Our small town has a plethora of craft breweries, in addition to the big one at the very end of our street (Coors). The range of beers is good and the quality exceptional. While most are available in local liquor stores, the real treat is to drop in to the brewery and have a glass (or two) on their patio or inside if it’s cool.

Local foods also have a global impact. Lloyd Alter reports, “Food miles, a concept that dates back to the 1990s, refers to the distance food is transported from the time it is grown to when it actually reaches the consumer. It is used to quantify the environmental impact of food, like its carbon footprint … although ‘food-miles’ are not and should not be considered the only indication of the environmental impact of food, they are a characteristic of every food commodity … A new study concludes that global food miles account for nearly 20% of total food-systems emissions and that these emissions are between 3.5 and 7.5 times higher than previously estimated.”

He quotes a University of Sydney study, “… to mitigate food system environmental impact, we conclude that the strategy of dietary change to reduce animal product consumption and promote plant-bast foods must at least be coupled with switching toward more local production in high-income countries. This strategy could be supported by tapping into the considerable potential of peri-urban [zones of transition from rural to urban land uses] agriculture in nourishing large numbers of urban residents.”

Eating seasonally-available foods is another approach to limiting the global impact.

Michael d’Estres has another thought. “Macroalgae, more commonly known as seaweed, is quickly expanding globally as a sustainable crop low in its environmental footprint, high in nutrients, and applicable across a wide variety of industries … Unlike land-based forestation efforts, ‘seaforestation’ requires no fertilization, fresh water, or careful considerations of other competing food production interests.”

He quotes Vincent Doumeizel, “When it comes to the ocean, we are still hunter-gatherers … By farming just two percent of the ocean, we could provide enough protein to feed a world population of 12 billion people. Seaweed is extremely protein rich, low in fat, low in carbohydrates, and rich in vitamins, zinc and iron.”

He adds, “And then there’s the massive benefit of potentially feeding the world’s livestock just a tiny bit of seaweed each day, an incredible breakthrough that almost sounds too good to be true … If livestock were fed on seaweed-based foodstuffs, rather than soy, methane emissions could be cut by 90 percent, and improve digestion whilst boosting the animals’ immune systems, which reduces the need for antibiotics,”

Since I like greens, the idea of eating seaweed appeals to me; however, I’m not sure that it will be locally produced any time soon in Colorado. Although, I did hear of a plan to flood Kansas …

Additional information:

Lloyd Alter, Food-Miles Study Spotlights Why We Need Local Food Back on the Menu, June 22, 2022, TreeHugger

Michael d’Estries, The Seaweed Food Revolution May Begin with a Name Change, June 20, 2022, TreeHugger

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