Buying Local Food And What I have learned
In the past few years I have been on I have been on a seemingly never ending journey to try and live as healthy a life as possible and provide good nourishing food for my family. It has become one of my life’s missions and passions. Food is life isn’t it? Shouldn’t we care about where our food comes from? How it was grown? What ingredients are in the products we use and consume on a daily basis? As a Christian I try and honor God by living and eating as healthy as I can. 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 states: Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
Even though my family follows no particular diet 100% of the time (I tend to agree and try to implement the dietary guidelines of Weston A. Price) I do want my family’s food to come from secure and trustworthy sources and when possible, be organic. Unfortunately, in today’s world, it seems food fraud and scandals are in the headlines all too often. This has pushed me to search for local farmers and producers to purchase as much of my family’s food and other home products as I can. In the past year, I have very gradually shifted our food supply from being 100% supermarket bought to now, approximately 60-70% coming from local farmers. In the process I have learned many things:
- I am so lucky to live in a region like Tuscany. The land is very rich and fertile; so much can be grown here. The 3 easiest and most abundant local products to find are: olive oil, wine, and cheese. All of the major supermarkets carry a large supply of Tuscan oils, wines and cheeses. Considering olive oil is the world’s # 1 most fraudulent food (milk being # 2), I would be crazy not to purchase it locally.
- There is so much available if you do just a little research. Before starting this process I felt overwhelmed by the idea of finding local sources to buy food from, but I have been amazed at what is available! I have found local sources for all of my family’s meat, cheese, milk (even raw), honey, eggs, seasonal produce, and if it were just a bit more budget friendly-diapers and personal care products (shampoo, etc). There are weekly/daily outdoor markets and supermarkets that promote local products too. With just a little searching I am sure you would be amazed at what you can find in your area.
- I am directly supporting the local economy. Whenever you “buy local” your money is staying in the community and helping your community thrive and continue to produce its goods. It gives incentives to local producers and others to continue and expand their business and employ local labor.
- Local farmers are such interesting people! I am now on a first name basis with my produce and milk delivery man…Carlo. My son David knows him and waits at the door when he knows Carlo is coming. He lives and works on an organic/biodynamic farm near San Gimignano and comes to Florence twice a week to deliver food. Carlo and I have even exchanged recipes and ideas on how to cook certain things. I must say, I don’t have that kind of a relationship with anyone that works at my local supermarket. There is also nothing like getting fresh raw organic milk delivered to your doorstep!
- Not all food is available 100% of the time. My farmer doesn’t have tomatoes in the winter or broccoli in the summer. I have learned to enjoy certain seasonal produce while I can. I now look forward to each season so I can enjoy its produce. It is also a good lesson for my children to understand that they cannot have everything at their disposal 100% of the time. We enjoy strawberries for only about 2 months of the year, cherries for just a few weeks, etc.
- You cannot get everything locally. While I am sure you could easily survive just eating local food there are several things my family loves to eat that cannot be grown here: bananas, avocados, and coconut oil being the main ones. I think it is perfectly fine to continue to purchase (in moderation) products that are not local. We live in a modern world where we have the luxury to enjoy foods from all over. Why should I deprive myself of a delicious and very nutritious avocado? The bananas I buy are organic and from fair trade so I am sustaining poorer farming communities in other parts of the world.
This journey getting to know my local farmers has been so fulfilling. It is so satisfying to sit down for dinner with my family and for us to know that most of our food came from just a few miles away.
What local products do you and your family purchase? How much of your food comes from local sources?