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How Local Are You Really?


Chris Amirault
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I take "eat local" as a very general good idea that's bound to have a lot of exceptions. Especially since I live in neither Northern California nor Southern France. Even here in New York, which has bountiful Hudson Valley and Pennsylvania for a back yard, eating local only takes you so far.

We don't have citrus fruits. If someone tried to grow them, I'd probably pass. We have winters that go on a lot longer than i'm willing to endure with canned food and root vegetables. And I hate to point it out, NYC locovores: our local grass fed beef gets green green grass for at most 2/3 of the year. The hay and silage they get the rest of the year adds neither fat nor flavor. You just can't compare that stuff to grain finished beef, or to beef from Southern California that dines on green pasture year round. I'm willing to pay the cow's bus fare.

Notes from the underbelly

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I'm willing to pay the cow's bus fare.

:laugh:

Next month, for the first time EVER, I am getting some beef from the herd which grazes near my old house (11 miles away). I have had to negotiate the use of freezer space from a friend. And, am glad that my daughter (who named the cows as we would walk past the pasture) no longer lives with me.

Karen Dar Woon

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Is our stuff really that bad when it gets to you? I would think things like blackberries and rasberries would do well in some of the warmer parts of New England (in winter), or at least do well in an area closer to you than California.

Yes, it generally is not good. In winter, I might be better off buying one of the better brands of frozen berries than what passes for fresh. Part of the problem is that the shops around here only stock berries from one or two producers, who send unripe fruit that tastes like packing material; you see the same packages everywhere. What's really bad is that even in the summer the regular supermarkets often have only the stuff from California, you have to go to a good produce market to get the local fresh stuff. There are no "warmer parts" of New England in winter.

Wow, that's just fascinating to me. In winter, when I see berries in the local supers in my part of SoCal (not that far from Shamanjoe), they're all from South America, as are the stone fruits and melons. I won't buy them. They're truly hideous...no fruit flavor whatsoever, no matter how long you let them sit on the counter. They will dissolve into a pool of ooze before they'd ever ripen.

I never, ever see berries, stone fruit and melons labeled as being from California out of our growing season in my local stores.

Not to say that our so-called "in season" berries, stone fruit and melons are much better than the dreck coming from Chile, but at least 50 to 75% of those purchases do eventually ripen to something edible. That is, if someone at the packing plant or the distribution center or the stock boy at the Mega Mart hasn't played bocce ball with them......

I am blown away to know California is exporting off season berries to the East Coast. I thought we simply stopped growing them out of season, and moved onto Frankentomatoes.....

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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Coffee comes from far far away, as does citrus and bananas. The coffee is fair trade and locally roasted, though. Veggies and non-citrus fruit I pick all summer long and freeze whole or cold store.

Organic dairy and eggs come from three doors down.

Although I buy organic grains and flours from a local family owned mill I am not sure where they buy their whole grains.

Beef, pork, chicken, all local.

Wines, local, except for the occasional Shiraz. I love the Greg Normans from Oz. Whites are easy here, though. I found a Gertwhizwhattheheckever I LOVE.

Even my eating chocolate is local (Art Bars) but I still buy the good cooking stuff from far away.

Spices that aren't local I buy.

My feeling is if I can buy it locally I should. If there is a product that is a specialty of one place, I don't mind buying that, that's their livelihood and my benefit. Yea USPS! But I wouldn't order pig from California when The Piggery in Trumansburg does it superlatively.

“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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I'm not local at all. Farmer's Markets are few and far between in Atlanta, and just not convenient to get to. I've tried, but they just aren't worth the hassle and let-down. When I think about it, I'll look for Georgia apples in the fall, or GA/SC peaches in the summer. Tomatoes, of course, when in-season. I don't eat much fruit, though.

I always look for Georgia shrimp, but that's still 4+ hours away. As for fish, I care more about it being wild than if it were farmed around the corner.

Meat? I'm leaning towards buying more locally-produced meat from Your Dekalb Farmer's Market (which isn't a farmer's market in the traditional sense), because it looks great (and there is a tremendous variety) but it is pricey. No freezer space right now, anyway. I haven't been buying a lot of meat lately, though, as I have been trying to eat/cook more vegetarian and seasonally (risotto, butternut squash ravioli, etc).

Produce? Very doubtful. Again, the farmer's markets aren't that good. YDFM has an insanely fantastic selection of produce that I've never heard of. They do a great job at labeling the source, but it rarely is Georgia. As for the other places I get food, they don't do a great job at labeling (Eastern US? Gee, thanks).

Herbs from YDFM because they are dirt cheap there. Same with spices.

Eggs, local. That seems easy.

Edited by Reignking (log)
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You just can't compare that stuff to grain finished beef, or to beef from Southern California that dines on green pasture year round. I'm willing to pay the cow's bus fare.

Green grass year round in southern California? Where exactly? We have far, far fewer green months than the Hudson Valley (and if there's an exception to that I'd bet the water certainly isn't local). The rest of the year cows get hay, either baled or dry but still in the pasture, like everywhere else.

 

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I live in Phoenix, AZ and it's pretty similar to living on Mars. We are surrounded by desert. Cotton and a few other crops are grown with irrigation with water we buy from Colorado.

I'm a vegetarian, so I don't know about meat.

A few veggies are grown hydroponically here, mostly greens and tomatoes, and I buy those. There are local citrus farms, local dates, and local pomegranates. A few nuts are grown here, most notably pistachios. I know a person with a pecan tree and enough people with citrus trees in their yards that I rarely actually pay for citrus fruit.

Grains come from out of state. I can get cornmeal from New Mexico, but wheat and rice products come from afar. Potatoes come from California or Colorado.

Generally, we get a lot of stuff from California. A lot of Mexican things are also available, but I am suspicious about their purity. We have seen some scandals with lead-laden and pesticide-laden imports.

I live in Lisa's world.

I do my best with what's available and affordable.

We planted a vegetable garden so more of our produce is local. Growing a good garden in the desert is a challenge though.

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I'm not a complete locavore by any means but I have definitely become better at it. Living in Southern California certainly helps to make this easy on me as well as markets like Whole Foods, Ralph's and the produce shop I found here in Carlsbad that totally rocks. I haven't started going to farmers markets yet, but do stop at farmstands when I see them and there are plenty of them around (there's one down the road from me that sells heirloom tomatoes which I happen to be addicted to).

Like everyone else though I definitely have things that come from afar in my cabinets and fridge (coffee, spices, imported cheeses, San Marzano canned tomatoes and condiments). My meats and produce are all local. Its a start. Once I get more familiar with the area I hope to move this ratio further along. Maybe next summer I'll buy a few bushels of tomatoes and can my own to get me off my San Marzano habit.

However, I won't be giving up my Hellman's anytime soon. After watching Food Inc. the other night I'm glad I've moved in this direction and wish I lived in Virginia near that one farmer they featured.

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Is our stuff really that bad when it gets to you? I would think things like blackberries and rasberries would do well in some of the warmer parts of New England (in winter), or at least do well in an area closer to you than California.

Yes, it generally is not good. In winter, I might be better off buying one of the better brands of frozen berries than what passes for fresh. Part of the problem is that the shops around here only stock berries from one or two producers, who send unripe fruit that tastes like packing material; you see the same packages everywhere. What's really bad is that even in the summer the regular supermarkets often have only the stuff from California, you have to go to a good produce market to get the local fresh stuff. There are no "warmer parts" of New England in winter.

Wow, that's just fascinating to me. In winter, when I see berries in the local supers in my part of SoCal (not that far from Shamanjoe), they're all from South America, as are the stone fruits and melons. I won't buy them. They're truly hideous...no fruit flavor whatsoever, no matter how long you let them sit on the counter. They will dissolve into a pool of ooze before they'd ever ripen.

I never, ever see berries, stone fruit and melons labeled as being from California out of our growing season in my local stores.

I've noticed that too. I rarely buy berries, but when I do, it's always at the farmer's market. On the off-chance that I buy them at the store, they almost never get eaten, as they're usually out of season. I don't even bother looking at the stone fruits in the winter, the memory of white peaches falling off my tree in summer is just too much to overcome. :)

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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Wow, that's just fascinating to me. In winter, when I see berries in the local supers in my part of SoCal (not that far from Shamanjoe), they're all from South America, as are the stone fruits and melons. I won't buy them. They're truly hideous...no fruit flavor whatsoever, no matter how long you let them sit on the counter. They will dissolve into a pool of ooze before they'd ever ripen.

After seeing your post, I happened to have to stop in a store tonight, and looked at the berry boxes they had. The address of the packager was California, but the berries themselves were marked as product of Mexico, so you were right, they weren't local to you.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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Wow, that's just fascinating to me. In winter, when I see berries in the local supers in my part of SoCal (not that far from Shamanjoe), they're all from South America, as are the stone fruits and melons. I won't buy them. They're truly hideous...no fruit flavor whatsoever, no matter how long you let them sit on the counter. They will dissolve into a pool of ooze before they'd ever ripen.

After seeing your post, I happened to have to stop in a store tonight, and looked at the berry boxes they had. The address of the packager was California, but the berries themselves were marked as product of Mexico, so you were right, they weren't local to you.

Oh, honey, Mexico ain't South America, it's an annex of SoCal !!! :wink:

Seriously, by South America, I mean Chile. We even get TV commercials here touting the virtues of Chilean fruit in the winter. What they don't tell you is that you'd get just as much taste chewing on the packing material in the boxes !

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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....I don't even bother looking at the stone fruits in the winter, the memory of white peaches falling off my tree in summer is just too much to overcome. :)

Heck, even summer is dicey ! Yeah, we had a nectarine tree in the backyard when I was a kid..*sigh*.

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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Beef, pork, lamb, chickens, turkeys, dairy and eggs are all produced within 20 miles.

Breads are baked at home or locally but I can’t be sure the wheat didn’t travel a few hundred miles.

We grow about 80% of our vegies and about 60% of our fruit. We can about 800 quarts of garden product each season.

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Tomatoes, peppers, green beans, sweet corn, squash, asparagus: 100% homegrown. NO desire for out of season store bought veggies.

Peaches and apples: from local orchards, 100%.

Beef: from a neighbor, 100%.

Chicken and pork: from the grocery store--chicken is probably from SW MO or Arkansas, 150 miles or so. Lord knows where the pork comes from.

Eggs: up til very recently, 100% home grown. I am out of the chicken biz for a while--knee surgery scheduled for December. My hens have gone to live in Indiana with my son, so he will keep me in eggs til I get new chicks next spring. I have a new granddaughter, so I will be visiting them regularly, (after my knee gets fixed.)

I bake my own bread, but I don't know where the flour comes from.

I don't buy fruit or veggies from Mexico or South America.

No olive oil from Missouri, but we do have some good wines!!

sparrowgrass
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Tomato's, leeks, garlic, onions (red,shallots & spanish), beets, aspargus, peppers, chiles, melons, lettuce, arugula, basil, oregano, sage, chives, parsley, cilantro, cukes, apples, peaches, nectarines, apricots, pears, plums and table grapes all grown on the property. Also have just under 1,900 olive trees from which we produce EVOO. Chickens for eggs. We are 25 miles from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo which has an ag school that produces beef, pork and dairy products sold at the school. They also have citrus and avo's available. Farmers markets in six locations throughout the week. Local (12 miles) fish market with fresh catch from the coast 30 miles away. Did I mention 200+ wineries, hell there's one across the street from us! We got it good and appreciate what we have available. I support local farmers as they do me. Hopefully you will as well.

"I drink to make other people interesting".

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Green grass year round in southern California? Where exactly? We have far, far fewer green months than the Hudson Valley (and if there's an exception to that I'd bet the water certainly isn't local). The rest of the year cows get hay, either baled or dry but still in the pasture, like everywhere else.

I'd assumed southern Cal ... I looked again and the ranches are in central and south central ... Cholame and San Simeon. No idea about their irrigation practices, but I know the grass is green and snow-free.

Notes from the underbelly

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Cholame ain't green unless it's post rain. 100-115 degrees is the summer norm. But, San Simeon is beautiful rolling hills on the coast between Morro Bay and Big Sur. Home to Hearst castle, Tawnyas summer home. The grass fed beef from Hearst ranch is pretty good.

"I drink to make other people interesting".

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San Simeon is beautiful, but still brown from at least, what, June through December? I just don't see that big a difference in the length of the growing season between California and eastern ranching areas.

 

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The grass fed beef from Hearst ranch is pretty good.

Yeah, that's what my butcher's gotten for me. Emma Hearst is a chef right around the corner, and she's getting him to be the NYC distributor.

If there's better grass-fed beef to be had, I'd like to know about it ... this stuff beats the pants off of everything I see here at the farmers' markets.

Notes from the underbelly

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We're lucky to have access to beautiful seasonal produce/products year round, and very economically. It just make sense, to your taste buds, if nothing else, to eat that way.

I will note that I've added this word to my personal food lexicon:

"remotavore".

Laurie

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Shame you can't get the beef out of CalPoly, pretty tasty as well. They have large coastal tracts of land for their cattle. My neighbor is a retired prof from CalPoly ag and has raised beef across the street. Grazed on only 10 acres and supplemented with feed but very good and, $9/lb. for the side!

"I drink to make other people interesting".

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  • 2 weeks later...

I went to the farmers market yesterday to pick up a few things, and I priced the pork butt and shoulder for a few projects. I'm sure it's delicious, but for $8/lb I couldn't bring myself to spend double what I'd spend for Coleman at Whole Foods -- and four times what it costs on sale -- for frozen product.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I went to the store the other day, and lo and behold, the strawberries, blueberries and blackberries all said "Grown in California". Even this late in the season, the blackberries were delicious, though the strawberries didn't look worth buying. I guess it'll be December before we go back to our "local" (rolls eyes) South American berries..

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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I live in New Zealand, I'm very lucky to be able to get all vegetables, all fish, all meat, poultry, eggs, dairy ( including terrific cheeses) wine, beer etc within 10 miles of my house. We have a fantastic farmers market. Chocolate is kind of local, since we have a Cadbury's factory in our city, but of course they will be sourcing ingredients from overseas.

Most fruit is local, although citrus tends to come from the north island and I live in the south. Nuts/coffee/tea/sugar and spices, many of these would come from overseas also. Hazelnuts grow locally though, and are delicious :)

Rice is not grown locally, but all other starches are, potatoes, wheat for pasta and grains etc.

I would say that the majority of our purchases would be local within 20 miles.

Edited by Saffy (log)
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That's an amazing feat, I wish I could do that here. In the summer at least, most of my produce comes from within 15ft :wink:

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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