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Posts Tagged local food

In Search of Local Food

Not too long ago I talked about my two focus areas of my life: Affordable housing and sustainable food. I have recently picked up Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle which has been a really good read.  The author talk about the many issues of our food system, primarily stemming from large agribusiness.

None of this is new, in fact it is rather old news to me, but something spurred inside of me to take a look at buying local.  I once made a big push for this, but when I arrived at the farmers market and discovered them simply repackaging produce from Argentina and placing it under the “produced in North Carolina” sign, I gave up.

I think what really motivates me is that I want real food, actual real food, not some chemically, induced genetically modified, adulterated and processed food.  After taking a look around, I realized something, it is hard to find real food.  Today’s companies market the fact that they use real sugar as if they are somehow an industry leader, I can only think “you are proud to say “our food is actually real food” “.

The other day I was at Walmart – I know, I know – and was excited to see that they had a “seasonal foods” aisle,  I rounded the corner to find seasonally thematic candy.  Not what I was expecting.  How far as a culture have we gotten away from our food when our seasonal foods are candy, simply repackaged?

A mental picture always comes into mind of the bumper stickers all over Asheville, NC and beyond “local food: 1000′s of miles fresher”  and it is true, the food we find in the stores is a bastardization of mother nature’s brilliance aka fruits and vegetables.  I have tried to find a local place to start buying milk – let’s not get into the whole raw vs. pasteurized debate – and have found it can be quite difficult to procure without driving an hour.  For eggs I soon will be producing my own, I could raise meat chickens, but I think it would be easier to just find it locally.  For cheese I plan to start making my own from the local milk.

I know there are simply some things I must resign myself  from getting locally such as flour, rice, and a few other things.  In all honesty, I love fruit so much that I don’t think I will ever stop buying out of state or country fruit, just can’t.  But it has caused me to rethink things and discover the local side of my food.  I think once I can get it buttoned down pretty well I can then start sharing my experience within my community, to show the ins and outs, the pros and cons.

Share your thoughts on local food  in the comments

66 Things You Can Grow In Containers

So here is a surprising list of plants you can grow in container.  Some of the notable one are the apples, citrus and avocados.  I have talked about apple growing in small areas, it involves espaliering which I talk about here.

Read the full article here

My Little Side Project

Hey all!  So I know I have shared many things on gardening, but I wanted to share a project I have been working on and am very excited about.  I have recently launched a community garden here in Charlotte, NC.  I was volunteering with some folks one day who I found out through an off hand comment that they wanted a garden.  They were saying that they had always wanted one, but didn’t know how to go about doing it.  So after talking with them, I discovered they had 8 acres that they didn’t use!

Well 8 acres is a bit much for a brand new garden so we decided on 5000 square feet for the first year.  You can see the satellite photo above where we tilled up the land.

So from these humble beginnings we have progressed a long way!  We now have 20 gardeners, from all walks of life, religions, incomes, ethnicity etc.  Of the food we grow, approximately 10% is donated to food banks.  We have big plans for next year, but its been a great growing season so far.  Check out the latest photos from our garden.


A Distrubing Trend

Being that it is Tuesday and on Tuesday I talk about gardening I have a rather disturbing story to tell.  Last weekend I went to the farmers market to get veggies etcetera for this weeks meals.  I stopped off at my favorite hole-in-the-wall breakfast place and off I went.

I make my way down to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Farmers Market, located off Yorkmount road in Charlotte NC.  I love this one, it one of the bigger farmers markets in the city and it is certainly the most popular.  As I walk around I see all shades of green.  Bok choy, asparagus, collard greens, beans and so on.

As I make my way down the rows, navigating the crowd I see out of the corner of my eye.  There it was, a vendor taking strawberries out of mass packed plastic containers and dumping them into these green cardboard buckets.  They then took these and placed them in their stall labeled “LOCAL NORTH CAROLINA PRODUCE”.

The way it is setup you can walk behind the stalls so I walked over and took a peek at these plastic containers.  “product of Mexico, packaged in the USA”.  Local washing is where you brand items as local produced when it is not.

As I walked around I found this to be the case for so many and not just strawberries, it was practically everything.  I found one guy who grew asparagus in his garden in Charlotte and I gladly handed him my four dollars.

I began to think about how this came to be or why this came to be.  I realized that smaller farmers simply cannot produce enough to meet the demands and the variety that people want.  This is why I think they have to buy mass produced items and sell them.  But I find that they lie and brand them as local is objectionable

What do you all think about this practice?   Do you see this at your local farmers market?