Saturday, July 18, 2015

Farmer's Market Locavores

I am always a bit amused when people tell me they are a "locovore." 

They say use this term without irony. I am supposed to applaud, but it is a bit hard when their clothes were made in Bangladesh from cotton grown in Mali and shipped to them through the Straights of Malaysia on Saudi crude. 

Their car or truck was almost certainly made 3,000 miles away, and runs on Canadian oil. They text on a phone designed in San Francisco and made in China, which is powered by coal or fracked natural gas sent 1,000 miles by pipe before it is converted to electricity sent 300 miles more by wire.


What does that mean? Is there such as thing as "locavore" olive oil, coconut oil, vegetable oil, rice, nuts, and garbanzo beans?  

Not most places! In fact, nowhere. 

When someone tells you they are a "locavore" all they are really telling you is that they occasionally buy produce at a farmer's market that was started in plastic pots made in Mexico, and fertilized with phosphate from Florida, and nitrogen from Alabama. That produce was too often picked by labor that came from 5,000 miles away, before it was packed in plastic and cardboard that came 800 miles, and was trucked 200 miles more to market.

I am all for fresh produce and supporting local farmers.  But let's not get too high-hat and call ourselves "locavores" when that term doesn't mean very much.

1 comment:

Olde New England said...

Another manifestation of the healthy-food fad is the “farmers market”. Over the past 10 years, farmers' markets have sprung up by the hundreds in little back-road towns everywhere, and especially in my southern New England area, using "Buy Local!" as their motto. It appears to be working, but in ways not expected.

Well-heeled suburbanites have been buying up old farms, pruning the old apple trees, planting small orchards, a few blueberry bushes, and a few rows of tomatos, sweet corn and, of course, pumpkins for the kiddies. In my home town in eastern Connecticut there is a farmers' market every Saturday morning in the late spring through mid fall. And it's a giant scam, because about 80% or more of the food is not local at all as evidence has shown.

During market season one of the biggest "farmers" puts out for trash pick-up every week during farmers' market months a pile of boxes from tomatoes, beans, lettuce, etc. etc. that were grown in the southern USA and Central America. I once followed another "farm" truck laden down with produce from the commercial farmers' market in Hartford which provides wholesale produce from Mexico, Guatemala, etc. - but not Connecticut.

My favorite "local" scam farmer had a giant refrigerated cold-room where there were stacks upon stacks of peaches in crates. In addition, there were gas tanks, probably filled with ethylene, the ripening gas used by commercial farms to cure un-ripe fruit. This same farmer was bold enough to unload in his sales barn - in full view of his customers - sacks of corn that had sewn-on labels with clearly printed "Grown in Pennsylvania." I commented that the sign on the corn table said Fresh from our Fields! He replied "I just use bags from a Pennsylvania farm that went out of business. When I further commented that the bags had been sewn shut - Did he have a sewing machine in the fields? he just gave me the hairy eyeball. But a couple of customers left without buying anything after they heard the exchange.

With the increasing globalization of food there's not much chance we are getting anything but commercially grown stuff unless you pick it yourself. Organic or just plain-old supermarket fare is a product of huge commercial farms, and people need to wise up and realize it. Eating “woo” is expensive and very unpalatable.