Many environmentally minded folks prefer to buy meat and produce from local farmers, for a number of good reasons. Dealing directly with the grower makes it easier to encourage and support farming practices that conserve the soil, require fewer chemical fertilizers and pesticides, or are completely organic. Also, probably less energy is consumed overall than when food is shipped several thousand miles.
Unfortunately, for many shoppers “local” isn’t all that local. Quite often the nearest farmers market is 25 or 30 miles away. So, readers have been asking if a weekly trip is justified, or if they’re undoing the benefits of local food by driving so far. Not to mention that $4- or $5-a-gallon gas might make virtuous food unaffordable for some consumers.
To deal with this, the more Spartan among you have pledged to make the trip by bicycle instead of car to conserve energy. I wholeheartedly support this combination of a triathlon training program and a shopping trip, but there are two less strenuous solutions:
- Take fewer trips--and buy a large volume of whatever is in season. Then can, dry, freeze, or preserve what you can’t eat fresh.
- Carpool. Well, duh. A no-brainer I never even thought of; it was a reader’s idea. Yep, even those of us who don’t own cars are still locked into the idea of solo driving to the store and to work.
So if you bring several people with you (who would otherwise drive separate cars), the fuel problem becomes much less significant. Have a festive trip. Catch up on gossip, argue politics, discuss methodologies of produce preservation, and take a break from e-mail and text messaging to experience the joys and sorrows of personal communication! And while you expound on the advantages of Slow Food, be sure to drive slow to save more gas.