In today’s fast food culture it’s becomes all too easy for the green of environmentalism to take a spot in the backseat while the green of currency rides shotgun. Many a consumer are constrained by circumstances such that we are unable (due to contingencies of time and/or money) to focus on corporate practices. One important area where we can take some control though is in the region of our waist.


Yes, you read that right: not waste but waist. Our stomachs to be more specific. While it has become normal for business practices to squeeze out profits through subsidies and by eternalizing costs, these balances are not ruled off the page but rather accumulate on the margins and weigh heaviest on those who have been peripheralized. What this boils down to is that the foods that cost the least and fill us up the most also are lacking in nutrition and are the least affordable in terms of our long term health.


Some of my major complaints against processed and mass manufactured foods are the hydrogenated oils used in lieu of butter for increased shelf life, the nitrates and rBST in dairy and meats, the heavy costs and pollution of petroleum fertilizers in production, and the gas and Freon needed to distribute these products over vast distances. Other questions regarding (e.g.) Roundup Ready and GM crops, the IP rights over lifeforms, the unethical strongarm tactics of Monsanto, monocropping, overfishing, pollution, quality of life issues for animals, labor rights for farmworkers and the longterm deleterious effects of a mass-manufactured diet on human health generally are all equally pressing concerns but (at least in regards to this article) will be placed on the backburner for now[i].  


We can, of course, try to be conscientious regarding what we consume to some degree with inevitable slippage happening while dining out or with friends and relatives. Here in the Bay Area we are blessed with an abundance of options when it comes to deciding what we will put on our dinner tables. While it may not be economically feasible to do all ones shopping at Rainbow Grocery or WholePaycheck, erm, WholeFoods rather, the veritable cornucopia that makes up the San Francisco/Silicon Valley regions’ web of local food production.


As explains, there are numerous advantages to supporting local food production.


  • You'll get exceptional taste and freshness - Local food is fresher and tastes better than food shipped long distances from other states or countries.
  • You'll strengthen your local economy - Buying local food keeps your dollars circulating in your community. Getting to know the farmers who grow your food builds relationships based on understanding and trust.
  • Fruits and vegetables shipped from distant states and countries can spend as many as seven to fourteen days in transit before they arrive in the supermarket.


Basically, what this means for us as consumers is that the fruits and vegetables don’t have to travel as far to get to us – that fourteen days is the equivalent of 1,300 miles! (ibid.) Which translates into fourteen more days for them to soak up juicy goodness and nutrients on the vine, tree or from deep underground! Eating locally grown and distributed produce also offers the added advantage of tuning yourself into the seasons and flavours as the year turns. I find the perfectly ripened vine tomatoes a wonderful addition to the warmer months … yum!


And while it may seem daunting to have to hunt down seasonal fruits and vegetables that are in season (hint: a local food wheel helps a bunch) or if the high prices of the health food stores dampen off you budget, some great alternatives exist! Farmer’s Markets abound and are bursting with ready to eat goodness. And if you need help in the kitchen as well (and let’s be honest – who couldn’t use a little help in the kitchen now and then) Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) such as Eatwell Farms or Farm Fresh to You are a great resource providing tasty recipe ideas along with their wonderful fresh produce.  Some even offer organic eggs and meats!


Try one, two or a few and sign up for an appealing assortment of fresh, locally grown produce delivered ripe and ready to eat delivered to a local dropoff/pickup spot (or even your front door)!  It makes good sense, and your stomach will thank you.  

[i]  Some excellent resources about food include the documentaries SuperSize Me, King Corn and Food, inc. and Fast Food Nation and Chew On This (both) by Eric Schlosser.  

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Sue Lebeck 

  Cool Block Platform Director

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