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2007.08.31

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Rebecca

I grew up in an area that was known for its agriculture and farms (Niagara, in southern Ontario), and it was easy for us to buy fruit or vegetables from local farmers during the summer to eat or preserve. Down the road, there was a butcher who made great sausages and from whom we would buy the occasional roast. In the winter, my dad would snare the occasional rabbit (mmm... rabbit stew). As well, my dad's family was (and is) actively involved in the fishing industry on the east coast, so we got a lot of fresh frozen fish and canned delicacies from them, too. In an area like that, where farming is easy, it's possible to eat locally on a regular basis.

However, now I live in an area with a very short growing season (snow in June anyone?) and not much agriculture. The fruits and vegetables at our local farmer's market are mostly imported from my hometown, or from farms outside the region. Sure, there are a lot of seasonal berries, and the hunting is good; the fact remains that there aren't a lot of farms in the area because the terrain and the environment are unsuitable. I try to make up for it by buying in-season and/or Ontario-grown produce in the meantime.

I'm on the waiting list at the library for Kingsolver's book, despite Bailey's dismissal of it. My understanding of the book is that it makes you think about where your food is coming from (as did Pollan's) as opposed to an outright endorsement of everyone moving to a farm to grow and raise your own food while ignoring how much work it takes, which Bailey seems to think it's saying.

Polly

I buy organic, and if there's a local option, I'll buy that largely for the freshness factor (although preserving farmland is also a nice bennie). I don't really see the point of buying local over buying organic, though, because IMO that's basically paying people to spray their pesticides where I live.

drunken monkey

Basically, I eat as locally as I can, with local defined for me as "grown in Ontario." I use a organic produce delivery service that favours local produce and won't include anything that travelled to Toronto by plane. (I realize that this is both a luxury, and an example of me paying someone else to do the hard work of searching these items out.) I buy meat from Ontario farms, almost exclusively. I go to a farmer's market in my neighbourhood every week and buy produce and meat from local producers, as well as chocolate and coffee from people who are not getting their source materials locally, obviously -- not a lot of coffee plantations in Toronto -- but who are doing some of the processing here and paying a fair wage for it.

But soon the farmer's market will close for the winter, and my options for local produce will dwindle. When that happens, I'll continue the preference for organic, local will get defined as "North American" and I'll do the best I can -- still eating mindfully, but also making sure I'm eating well and not making it a miserable experience to find things to put in my mouth every day. I can only eat so much squash.

And I will buy clementines at Christmas, because I look forward to it and that's when they're delicious.

Jacquie F.

Up here, Southeast Alaska, you can get all the food you need if you spend your entire summer gathering it. They call it subsistence--a lot of people live that way. There really is abundant food here between fish and game and berried. Much of the intertidal vegetation is edible. (My friend make awesome kelp pickles.)

I have to work, unfortunately, so I can't spend as much time out as I would like. My husband and I do invest a great deal of time in catching/smoking/ freezing/canning salmon. I pick gallons of berries to freeze and can. We hunt for the deer on the island. Last year was the first year in my life where we didn't buy any meat from the store. I'm pretty proud of that. Next year I will be starting a garden too. Gardens are limited here...the soil never really gets warm enough to produce tomatoes or peppers. I can't live without either so I have to take what comes into town.

Thank you, Lisa, for talking about canning and preserving. There is nothing prettier than a shelf full of home-canned goods. Also, those canned huckleberries make summer seem like a possibility during January.

gwen

i'm lucky enough to have a mother who gardens extensively. she gives me a ton of stuff from her garden and i freeze it. she also cans me lots of goodies and makes jam. i also frequent my local farm stand in the winter who grows their own lettuce, which i live off of. i do buy winter citrus fruits, which are of course trucked in. and i do occassionally indulge in out of season stuff, if only to make a cocktail with on my blog (intoxicatedzodiac.com). as for organic versus local, it's a toss up. of course the pesticides and gmos are killer, but the image of starving polar bears has been burned into my brain, and every time i buy something imported i think of this. so, co2, or pesticide & gmo? is there really a worse of these two evils?

Polly

so, co2, or pesticide & gmo? is there really a worse of these two evils?

It's not quite frogs-v.-polar bears: Industrial farming practices are also thought to contribute to global warming.

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