My friend, John, got a job this week. I know this because from the onset of his unemployment, he’s remained steadily committed to his blog, “The View From the Middle (Class).” In it, he candidly shares his daily struggles – keeping focused on the big picture while seeking gainful employment.
Most remarkable was that he found a local job. He’ll be working in support of his local community as a computer programmer, contributing to the systems foundational to this virtual life. Just more evidence that we are increasingly connected – John’s public announcement reached me almost a thousand miles away in only a matter of minutes.
Technology connects and sustains relationships but how often does it truly pay the bills? How can we simultaneously connect globally while remaining locally inter-dependent? From my perspective, there are some commodities that are best kept local.
I spend a good deal of time each day influenced by the global economy. The news media and my immediate reality are often worlds apart. Quite often I’m left feeling like a hostage of the huge corporations that control our communications, our media, and our food. So, I challenge myself to take small steps every day to shift my focus back to my immediate environment, the place I have the most influence.
Recently, I joined a CSA, a local farm offering Community Supported Agriculture, providing neighbors with fresh, local, and seasonal vegetables. Bloomfield Farms is only a few miles from my home, and they deliver to my town’s new “Food Shed” set up by a neighbor who’s agreed to sponsor the program. I was thrilled to begin eating food grown in my neighborhood. But, I wasn’t prepared for the depth of the journey. Each box is its own adventure.
This week, I picked up my veggie box for the first time. Taking it home, after opening it, inspecting it, and washing every single leaf, the variety and the novelty of the included heirloom vegetables surprised me. I instantly researched the different varieties and investigated new recipes.
Then, I got the email enclosed with a rich commentary and mini-lesson on heirloom vegetable varieties and links to ideas for preparation, along with a sincere invitation to come to the farm and have a more intimate experience with locally grown food.
As a lover of good food, I was immediately charmed and sent an email thanking these wonderful neighbors for what they are doing to bring good food to my little corner of the world. My reward was a swift personal response filled with more information and another invitation.
I’ve committed to my new CSA for many reasons:
New Foods New Recipes
This week I discovered several simple new recipes to use for new chard and kale varieties. I learned that cooking kale slowly brings out an earthy sweetness. Given the health benefits of these winter vegetables, by combining the dark leafy greens with lively quinoa, our meals were richer and more flavorful.
Know Who Grows Your Food
My brief introduction to the faces of Bloomfield Farms has left me wanting more. Taking the time to understand their philosophies on heirloom farming gave me a greater appreciation of their commitment and passion, which seeps into the food they grow. I plan to take a tour of the farms in the next couple of weeks and meet my farmers face to face.
Harmonize With the Seasons
Our modern grocery stores bring us food from all seasons on demand. There’s a theory that eating food in season helps regulate the body’s natural immune system, as well as deliver nutrients necessary for a balanced life.
Pass to Future Generations
Preserving heirloom foods for our children and those beyond is essential to our long-term survival. Our choices of food varieties are dwindling, which is actually creating a frightening trend of food extinction. Seed banks are now popping up everywhere, and with an approaching GMO crisis, we have every right to be concerned. Heirloom foods generally taste better and of the heirloom tomatoes, I’ve yet to find a favorite. I’ve all but abandoned the hybridized, round, and gooey tomatoes from the grocery store. They just have no flavor. Besides, have you ever heard of a German Pink Tomato?
Sitting here in my kitchen, I discover that small actions have the potential to make big impacts. What would life be like if I lived completely local, channeling most of my money into my local economy? How would my life and those around me be affected? I’m determined to find out and embark on a journey to uncover the opportunities to affect change within my little corner of the world.
Deborah, I was anxious to read this post when I saw it in my email. I then found myself very pleasantly surprised to see that you’d managed to mention me in it! Ha! Thanks for that!
You know, I believe if we all do our part to commit to “going local” as much as we can, it would go a long way toward improving our lives — physically through selecting food that’s healthier for us that we know hasn’t been touched by so many additives and preservatives and harmful chemicals; economically through the support of local businesses rather than national chains; personally through the relationships we find, develop, and enrich along the way by getting to know our neighbors who we choose to support with our business, and telling others about them.
It’s all one small step that each one of us can make that turns into giant steps if enough of us follow through.
As for us, I’m glad to be able to get away from supporting the mega-stores as much as we have been in order to save a few bucks and going more toward supporting the neighborhood stores that I know are owned by local people and have been for years, and I know my local grocer supports local growers and is environmentally conscious, and my neighborhood grocer has people there who recognize me when I walk through the doors and will chat with me like a friend instead of just another “face.” It’s a win-win all the way around.
Your entry was poignant, clear, purposeful and true. It just feels right when we buy local, when we take care of our own while sharing our passions, recipes, gifts with others, when we support our local businesses and connect intimately with our community. We simply feel good, inside and out.
Thank you, Monica. We are truly blessed living in this part of the world. I know you understand the true beauty of good food and drink!
John, congrats again! You are so inspiring and thank you for taking us all on your journey. Now that spring is upon us, I’d love to hear more about what local foods you’re finding in your neck of the woods. One of my favorite “haunts” are the Farmers Markets. Do you and your family ever cruise the markets?
Nice post. I agree about the importance of small steps…and localizing more areas of our lives. Enjoy the groceries!
Thank you for your encouragement. I find the challenge of spending local to be a noble cause, especially now. Blessing!