Despite the predictions of some grocery wonks that the local foods movement would be another shortlived fad—a blip on the culinary radar screen—the growth in awareness and consumer demand for local foods shows no sign of dropping off. People keep coming up with creative ideas to promote local foods, like the Silverton Grange Hall’s 50-Mile Breakfast, featuring items grown or produced within 50 miles of Silverton. Harry MacCormack of Sunbow Farm in Corvallis developed the Southern Willamette Valley Bean and Grain Project to provide incentives for farmers to switch acreage from grass seed to wheat, beans, and other edible seeds.
Local foods have caught on for a reason: fresh, local produce usually tastes better than stuff that’s been trucked several hundred miles from, say, California. And buying local means there’s a better chance we actually know who made or grew our food: we know that our money is going to human beings whom we’ve met and appreciate, not some faceless agribusiness giant. Locavores also cite global ecological concerns as a reason for eating more locally, as produce grown close to us won’t require as much fossil fuel for transport.
Predictably, however, as the number of locavores has increased, some criticism has popped up. The most vocal been the local vs. organics fight, whose main argument runs something like this:
Local Foodie: “Eating locally tastes good, is good for local farmers, and has environmental benefits.
Organic Foodie: “Not when the local farmer is using pesticides. Organic is more important because it means no pesticides in my food and guarantees better growing conditions.”
Local Foodie: “Your organic pineapple got shipped in from Hawaii. Do you even want to know how much oil it took to get that here? You must not care about global warming.”
Organic Foodie: “Is that a chocolate bar in your shopping bag? You can’t grow chocolate in the Willamette Valley. Hypocrite.”
… and so on.
But here’s the thing: it doesn’t have to be either-or, and at LifeSource we try hard to make sure you’re not faced with this sort of false choice. Governor Kitzhaber has declared September 12-18 to be Organically Grown in Oregon Week, but at LifeSource we try to make that a reality 52 weeks out of the year. Whenever possible, we provide produce from farms simultaneously local and certified organic, like Teal Creek Farm, Egor’s Acres, Minto Island Growers, and others from up and down the Willamette Valley. In our grocery aisles, you can find many local organic items, such as Sweet Creek’s organic pickles, jams, salsas, and enchilada sauces packed in glass by the Fuller family in Elmira, Oregon. Or check out Nancy’s organic yogurt and other dairy products from Springfield, Oregon.
Ultimately, I believe, the majority of the food all of us eat will be local and organic, whether by choice or necessity. In the here and now, however, it’s very possible to enjoy both organics and locals without having to choose between them.
Photo by: dafiana