Buy locally — and do it for the flavor

If you believe that buying locally is the same thing as shopping at Thriftway, then please read on.

  • Wednesday, June 18, 2008 12:00am
  • Opinion

climate matters

If you believe that buying locally is the same thing as shopping at Thriftway, then please read on.

First, a couple of anecdotes:

Back when Meg Gluckman and I were giving Climate Project presentations, we always included a reference to the importance of shopping for locally grown produce. We spoke about reduced food miles and, of course, taste. When a young woman in the back of a college classroom exclaimed in relief, “Oh whew, I buy my groceries at Safeway, so I’ve got that one covered,” we realized we had some explaining to do.

Just the other day, at the end of Kelly Chevalier’s fabulous cycling class, I somehow got into a conversation with another woman about, of all things, salad greens. I was extolling their virtue when she countered, “Sometimes they look dry and wilted, and so I don’t buy them.”

“Oh,” I responded, picturing the luscious piquant greens I’ve been picking up bi-weekly from Hogsback’s farm stand, “where do you buy them?” When she said the local grocery store, I knew it was time for another article on local food.

I suspect that many of you have reached a saturation point regarding issues surrounding climate change. You’ve already done so much: switched out light bulbs, turned down the thermostat, traded in your gas guzzler for a better mileage vehicle or better yet a bicycle, and reduced your air travel to a necessary minimum. Or perhaps you’ve decided that the vicissitudes of the climate crisis will be rained down upon us regardless of any interventions you make, and you’re tired of being nagged at by the Climate Police.

This article seeks to take a different turn — away from guilt induction — toward the pursuit of gustatory pleasure. Eating locally has become easier and tastier with a number of options to fit your diet, taste buds and pocketbook. Here are some options:

For the busy commuter, learn where the farm stands are located and stop by the most convenient one on your way home from work. As the growing season comes into its own, you’ll find freshly picked greens, carrots, beets, potatoes and garlic, just to get you started. Some stands even have fresh milk, yogurt, cheese, meat and eggs.

I encourage everyone to seek out your nearest farm and become a regular customer. Consider joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and indulge in a weekly bag of freshly harvested goodies. Grab your kids and their little red wagon and make the trek on foot.

If you haven’t stopped by the Saturday Farmers Market, you’ve not only been missing a wealth of vegetable starts, early produce, hot soups and delectable pastries, but you’ve also missed out on the fun of running into your friends and neighbors, chatting up the vendors, listening to some lively music and strolling past the crafters selling their colorful wares. Later in the season, the market will be open on Wednesday afternoons as well. It’s Island community at its best.

The Vashon Island Growers’ Associ-ation’s Web site has all the information you could possibly need for sleuthing out farm stands and getting market details: Or pick up The Beachcomber’s Destination Vashon; it, too, has a good list.

An increasing number of Islanders have taken up their own hoe: digging in the dirt, pressing seeds into the soil and watching them grow. Dana Schuerholz, a well-seasoned local farmer, states emphatically that growing your own food is transformative and will forever change your relationship to those beans and squash you always took for granted.

Whether you’re trying to cut costs or you relish the challenge of growing tomatoes in our misty clime, growing your own will add to our Island’s ability to sustain itself. Gardening provides a tasty homegrown response to the climate crisis.

If you’re like my husband and can’t resist growing way more garlic than we could ever eat, you can share your bounty with others by dropping off produce at the food bank on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. It’s always appreciated.

And finally a special treat: If you’d like to experience the joys of great cuisine without preparing it yourself, venture into the world of Local Flavor, owned and run by Karen Biondo and Nancy Foster-Moss. Attend a Sunday brunch, or sign up for a cheese-making class, where you’ll be treated to a delicious local flavor lunch and get a sample cheese to take home. (See Yum! Who said, eating locally has to be hard work?

As an avid reader of The Beachcomber, I am always amazed to hear someone say they missed an article here or there. So please, pass it on:

Eat locally. Eat for the flavor. Eat for change!

— Janie Starr is a member of Sustainable Vashon, a devotee of the farmers market, and a loyal customer at several Island farm stands.

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