J500 Media and the Environment

Green Acres but No Takers by matthewtb
February 6, 2009, 4:48 pm
Filed under: Food + Health | Tags: , ,

We can all picture a farmer parked at the roadside with a truck-bed full of produce and no one is stopping to buy any.truck-farmer21

There are a few difficulties to overcome when reviving a locally grown food system.  Farmers markets are excellent for buying local produce and so are co-ops like the Merc.  Cities like Lawrence lack open markets, where farmers and vendors can convene on a larger scale.  Farmers setting up shop in a parking lot once a week will not suffice. A permanent, central market that’s open daily is needed.  The Merc is an available outlet for local growers, but the interaction between the consumer and the producer is lost.

When Simran spoke with James MacKinnon during a treehugger radio interview, he said that North America has a history of not fully developing local food cultures.  We have always been shipping our food.  Our food traveled first by covered wagon and now my tractor-trailer.  There wasn’t a need to set up local food networks with advances in food preservation.  So I think it will take much more than just farmers markets and co-ops to successfully get the locavore trend off the ground.

It is hard to believe that the average food at a grocery store travels 1,500 miles.  We have grown accustomed to eating exotic foods from around the world.  Since landlocked Kansas couldn’t be any further from the ocean, seafood must be shipped hundreds of miles inland. Are we to drop these items off our menu if we go local?  It is hard to imagine a diet consisting of only local fish caught in rivers and lakes.

By: Matt Bristow

Thanks to kenbateman.com for the picture.


5 Comments so far
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In my opinion a person would most likely fall ill if they consumed fish available in the local stagnant lakes and sewer system rivers. For most of us accustomed to exotic flavors we are a long way from a completely local diet, but awareness and education will move us in the right direction. I agree, a central market is needed!
Tina Wood

Comment by christinaw09

I would love to eat more locally, but I couldn’t imagine giving up the Chinese ingredients that my family uses in everyday cooking. I realize that, in being shipped here from the other side of the world, these ingredients emit a large amount of greenhouse gases and require a lot of preservatives. However, food is such an important part of our culture. How do you sacrifice that?

Comment by janiec52

I wrote about a similar theme– that North America never really developed a local food culture. You began your piece by writing about a farmer selling from his or her truck bed. In Southern England, farmers do actually make their livelihoods like that! In the summer, when you drive around Kent, you pass hundreds of little stops to buy Kentish berries. It’s great.

Comment by brennad87

I agree about the need for a daily open market in Lawrence for local farmers to sell their produce. I wonder if the people at City Hall ever think about the economic possibilities. A troubling economy needs to see its money spent locally. And with the excise tax on liquor being claimed by the state, why can’t we focus on selling the other thing Kansans are good at: growing food.

It makes so much sense, but doubt people have thought that far out of the box.

-Aly V

Comment by alyv

I don’t think we can be fully satisfied as locavores in a place like Kansas. The world has become so diverse in population as well as tastes. We eat food from almost every major culture and export our food culture in return. I agree that we need to develop ways to reduce the carbon footprint on food shipped globally.

Comment by matthewtb

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