I’ve been reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan, recently, and it has been getting me thinking in particular about locally grown food. I think eating more locally is going to be critical to future sustainability – it just takes too much energy to transport (and keep fresh during the transportation) mass quantities of food, not to mention the energy it takes to grow food in an industrialized manner. Growing food locally allows for (in fact, requires) a single farm to grow diverse crops or raise diverse livestock, which is much more sustainable and, if done right, require far less (possibly none) artificial pesticides and fertilizers (which take energy to make). Go read the book and you will see what I mean; Pollan describes a farm with an incredible amount of symbiosis going on, such that the only thing the farmer has to purchase in order to raise beef cattle, pigs, chickens for eating, and chickens for egg laying, is some chicken feed.
As I was thinking about these things, I remembered a booklet I had picked up at the farmer’s market a few weeks ago from the Boulder County Going Local organization. I flipped through it and found an article about a really awesome grassroots community farm. Called Community Roots, it exists in a suburban community: the farmland consists of several front and back yards of standard suburb houses. You can volunteer your yards for their project and they will farm them for you! I think this is such a cool idea. Although I love lawns, they are really a bit of a waste of energy, especially in a semi-arid climate such as this one – they require watering and mowing and don’t provide anything in return. Turning them into food-producing pieces of land is a great use of space. I am even more thrilled about this community farm because it is only a mile or so from where I live! Unfortunately, I don’t have a yard to contribute, but I am definitely going to look for their booth the next time I go to the farmer’s market. I love the idea of buying food grown so very locally.
The thing I struggle with about trying to eat locally is that produce, the primary thing that it is easy to buy locally, does not make up the majority of my diet (although perhaps it should) – breakfast cereals, bread, milk, eggs, cheese, nut butters, and a variety of canned goods play a large role in my diet as well, and it is not so easy to obtain such things locally. I have bought some cheeses at the farmer’s market, but they are expensive artisan cheeses only, not something I would necessarily want to use for my run-of-the-mill scrambled eggs or burritos. I saw in the booklet I was reading that there is a farm that sells eggs at the farmer’s market, so I will have to look for them. However, I fear that there are still going to be many things I buy at the supermarket for quite a while still.