Much has been in the news lately about the price of oil affecting the price of food and the risks involved with outsourcing our food production overseas on a large scale. Also, of course, the issue of food miles (quoted as anywhere from an average of 1200 to 2200 miles nationally) which doesn’t usually factor in such remote places as New Zealand and China.
This blog isn’t meant to be a soapbox for my opinions on the topic, but indulge me this once. If you’re reading, I assume that you either know and care about all the political and environmental issues regarding the food you eat or are interested in fresh healthful food growing close to home. By purchasing food from our local farmers and ranchers, we all get the benefits of helping them make a living wage and knowing where our food originates.
We also hedge against the rising cost of food with lower transportation costs. That is not to say that local producers are immune to fluctuations in the price of oil. If you recall the last time there was a major jump, in the spring of 2006, many of our local farmers apologetically had to raise their prices to cover the costs of delivery. Our local organic growers aren’t beneficiaries of the myriad subsidies for petroleum-derived nitrogen nor federal subsidies in general. If we buy their product as directly as possible, we allow them to keep all of the profit and ensure that they remain viable and productive. They retain a modicum of independence from the low pricing pressures of the wholesale market and we regain our independence of local food choice. It’d suck to be somewhere in a state where nothing was being farmed but thousands of acres of commodity corn. Miles of crops and nothing to eat.
As to security, did you notice during the last spinach e. coli scare, our local farmer’s markets and the co-op had plenty of safe, locally grown spinach to be had? More recently Walker’s Healthy Pet had plenty of dog food not made in China or tainted with melamine. The only dangers usually with our local foods are eating too many Sakuma strawberries at once. 🙂
Then there’s the home garden, the source of much joy, produce and frustration. It gives us both a level of financial independence and a bit of food security. All of these small things together work toward saving our food budget, our local economy and our global environment.
As times goes on, I’ll be including some non-food items that are produced locally or at least closer than the usual corporate options. Also other local businesses that are making a contribution to what makes Skagit County unique and great for its residents. I won’t be talking about the Tulip Festival, ferries to the San Juans or any of the casinos. The chambers can take care of the tourists – this is for your information.
Suggestions are welcome and I have a long list of upcoming topics with no danger of running out any time soon. With that, I wish you all a Happy Independence Day!