Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Local food

When I was a kid we bought food from our neighbors. Occasionally we sold food (eggs) to our neighbors. I remember as a kid driving out to the Hutterite colony for potatoes and carrots. I also remember running up the road to deliver a dozen eggs for a quarter to our neighbor.

***Side Story. I almost died on the top of our chicken coop when I was a kid. Elvis (see directory of who's who on the simple farm) was burning grass on a mildly windy day in Alberta. (Mildly probably meant it was around 50 km per hour.) The fire got out of hand and Elvis headed down to the house for water. Shorty insisted he come back and get me off the coop before he went for the hose. Good thing as the coop was burned up and most of the back acre of grass before he came back with the hose. With no coop however, that was the end our of chicken days.***

The main reason we liked buying food from people we knew was because it was cheaper than buying the same products at the grocery store. In the olden days grocery stores used to buy most of their produce from local farmers so if you could cut out the middleman there was a bit of savings to be had.

Milly and I seek out local food as often as we can. We haven't been to a grocery store (besides Costco) for many months. The other day I went into Smiths to buy something and I thought how strange it felt to be in an actual grocery store.

Why do we buy local food? At first it was because Milly was convinced grocery type food was making us ugly. Just kidding, she thought it was making us sick. I grudgingly went along as any skeptical husband would. But after the first taste of real carrots, beats, squash, and potatoes I was sold. It is amazing the difference in quality pulling carrots out of the ground compared to the woody, bland, gross, grocery store counterfeits. I'm not as good at researching the health hazards of pesticides as Milly is but I can tell what tastes good. I was shocked last week when I drank some skim milk at Greybeard and Dancing Queen's place. I saw them take off the seal so knew they didn't spike the milk with milk powder like they used to. But I almost spit out the gross milk powdery junk I was tasting. I swear regular grocery store milk tastes like milk powder now.

What is local food? To me local food is any food that is grown by people I know. I don't care if it's three hours away. If I can drive there and see who is producing my food that is local enough for me. Some people have a limit on how far away they'd consider local but as long as it's not coming from some industrial farm down south somewhere I'm OK with it.

Is local food cheaper? No way. Not even close. Let me describe a few reasons why.

After Milly did her normal thousand hour research project (she researches everything and she's a chemistry person on top of it all) on chemicals and food, we turned from a normal grocery going lifestyle to seeking out food in the back woods of Montana. We now travel three hours round trip for milk, eggs, and beef every other week to a farm that grows the food just like we would if we were so talented.

***Side Story. One of my more popular stories is how I get my underground, black market, raw milk contraband. Raw milk is illegal in MT. Medical marijuana is OK but raw milk is going too far. Our raw milk supplier is very cautious in supplying the goods. Last year we met them at a farmers market half way to their farm to exchange the goods. I backed up my car behind their stall, opened the trunk and secretly they passed over the goods into my cooler. I didn't have enough room in the cooler for all the milk so they sent their cooler home with me so no one would see what we were transporting. I felt like a criminal hiding my secret supply of...milk. I'm glad I didn't get stopped by the Five-0 and have to explain my goods.***

It is also unrealistic to expect a small time farmer to compete with the vast industrial farm setups.

Where do we get local food? We frequent the farmers market weekly in the summer and often meet our suppliers during the week at their farm to check things out and get the good stuff before they bring it to market. We also started a small square foot garden but it was only 6 feet by 12 feet so doesn't supply all of our needs.

We have also found varying suppliers of food around our area. We found a wheat lady peddling her product out front of Lowe's and she's become our wheat supplier of choice. She's a little eccentric and almost lost me when she started describing chewing her wheat sprouts like a cow chews her cud but Milly convinced me this is what normal hippies do.

So if you haven't guessed from the above we spend a lot more on food now than we ever did before. But the quality of food is so much better it is worth the added expense. But if you consider we buy very little processed food and hardly ever go out to eat the price of food almost evens out. And we have gotten a whole lot better looking. Ha, just kidding again. But we are seriously way more healthy than ever before. Our kids haven't been sick in two years and they used to be sick every week.

So back to my original thought. I asked Greybeard and Dancing Queen why they bought local food: The eggs are bigger. So they think it's cheaper to buy the food from a neighbor.

At the very least we should be willing to pay the same amount as what things cost in the grocery store. And if you consider the difference in quality the price should be somewhat higher. Heck, I'm willing to drive three hours for milk and pay three times as much as grocery store milk.

You've ruined me Milly.

1 comment:

  1. Who'd of thought the tricks the moonshiners learned would apply to milk?