If you pay attention to details, it’s not too difficult to eat entirely (or close to entirely) local. It’s amazing though how many little things there are to forget about, like butter and onions. When offered local butter at the Orange Grove Farmers Market on Saturday, I declined saying that I was stocked up on butter. It didn’t dawn on me until getting home that my butter was from New Zealand and South Australia. I bought fresh pasta, then when I got home, wondered about the provenance of the wheat it was made from.
I forgot to buy onions, and found myself having to pick one up on Monday from the supermarket. I just bought one, because I thought I’d get more from the little mom and pop shop up the street from me when they were open again. I stopped in today, and while there asked the shopkeeper where he sources his produce from. I already knew he gets his eggs from local farmers who keep pastured hens, so hoped the vegetables also came from a local farmer. It turns out he gets them at the wholesale market.
This got me thinking more about my food choices. It’s true that some of the produce my local grocer buys from the wholesale market is coming from farther afield than a 160km radius, or even NSW, but isn’t it important, too, to support local business? I’d much rather give my colorful Aussie dollars to the locally owned shop than to one of the chain supermarkets. By supporting the local shop, perhaps he can one day start making the switch to completely local and organic produce. I’d love to see neighborhood grocers thriving while providing us with healthy food choices.
I ran into a similar dilemma with milk. Moo & More at the Orange Grove Market sells dairy products from local Peel Valley Milk every Saturday. This milk is fairly local and about as fresh as you can get without milking your own cow, but comes in a plastic bottle and doesn’t appear to have an organic certification. On the other hand, I can buy Paul’s Pure Organic, which is an amalgamation of milk from far reaching dairies, but has NASAA certification, comes in paper cartons, and is sold at the local grocer.
There are many things to think about when making food choices. Sometimes it’s not just about how close you reside to the grower, but also about sustainable practices, and looking at the bigger overall picture: plastic vs paper, small herds of mostly pastured cows vs a more industrial operation putting greater stress on the environment, supporting local business vs letting them be pushed out by the corporations. It can feel overwhelming.
For myself, I’m going to continue doing most of my shopping at the farmers market, while making some purchases from the mom and pop shop. Who knows, maybe I can plant a seed there and he’ll one day start selling local milk.