Friday, December 07, 2007

Eating Local

My husband and I are not very good at organized action. It's just not in our nature to march down streets yelling our lungs off and waving placards. But we do believe in the power of the individual, that the choices he makes, good or bad, has an impact on the rest of society. We're not just riding on the environmental bandwagon (although even if that were the case, it would be a good thing); we have always tried to be conscientious about our choices as consumers. Some of the things we do include recycling, not buying things we don't really need (yes, that means I try to limit my clothes shopping--argh!), and eating local food.

I was talking to my friend's boyfriend the other day. Marcos is a scientist (I seem to be surrounded by them at the moment) from Ecuador, working on the transformation of water melted from icebergs into potable H20. Given his occupation, of course he is very concerned about the earth drying up because of man misbehaving. After discussing his work, we had an interesting talk about, of all things, tomatoes.

"You go to the market, see a tomato from France and then a tomato from Morocco," went one of Marcos's quotable quotes. "Automatically, you get the one from Morocco because it is cheap, not pausing to think that the environmental cost of that Moroccan tomato is really a lot higher than the French one because of all the petrol used to transport that vegetable here." (Yes, I hear you, smartypants: The tomato is a fruit. Read on, please.)

I am not very good at proselytizing, so I will let a farmer I saw on television the other day explain why exactly I'm telling you the tomato story: "As consumers, we should realize that our decisions should not just be based on the price per kilo. That thing that you are eating, ask yourself, how did it get there, on your table? And what exactly is in there? What are you putting into your mouth?"

All that said, in our household we're going to move forward in our effort to be conscientious consumers and try out Associations pour le Maintien d'une Agriculture Paysanne or AMAP. Essentially, how it works is you pay a local farmer ahead of time to produce vegetables during the season (list of vegetables approved beforehand by everybody involved in the project), and then you come every week with your basket to pick your share of the harvest. Sounds cool, doesn't it? We'll not only be eating fresh and organic, we'll also be helping local industry.

The website is in French, but the idea came from the States. Click here for US residents, and here if you live in the UK.

Not a funny post, I know. I told you I'll do that one next week.


tommpouce said...

yup, it's all the rage at the moment. We're having a local producer come once a week to our office. the basket size is ordered 3 days in advance and we can tick vegetables and fruits we don't want.
Good quality for us, steady income and efficiency for him.

La Pomme said...

That's cool, Tomm! Are you also required to come work one day on the farm? I think with the farmer we're working with it's going to be like that. Should be interesting.

mitsuru said...

what else can i say?

with due apologies to the tomatoes in the story,the philippines and the rest of the world need to ketchup regarding this novel movement :0

tommpouce said...

Me, working the earth? Come on, I'm a city boy :p. Nope, no such requirement, it's just a straight-to-the-consumer deal. With the quality, it's also much easier than going to the market every week.

Dhanggit said...

we try as much possible to consume local goodies..for fresh stuffs its always easy for me coz every friday we have a market where local farmers are selling their veggies, fruits and meat!! they are much cheaper and much tastier..i already avoided buying tomatoes in the supermarket for most often they dont have taste all!! on the contrary i think its a nice post!!

Anonymous said...

Apol, do you think the veggies from the carts on the streets in Manila were grown nearby (or at least in the same region) and therefore low impact?

The whole locavore trend is buzzing throughout the US, but prices are prohibitive for the average consumer.

Case in point: New York magazine did a story on how a man in Brooklyn tried to grow everything he ate and it cost him $10,000, bunny cannibalism, and an angry wife. Read the hilarious story here:

apol said...

MITSURU, your comments always manage to make me smile :)

TOMM, afraid to get dirt under your well-manicured nails, eh???

DHANGGIT, I know what you mean about tasteless tomatoes. If they're grown out of season, it just doesn't have that juicy, sweet summer taste, does it? We should meet some time and eat at a really really nice restaurant. I love eating good food with people who cook.

KAT, locavore--the Americans have a buzzword for everything! I wouldn't know how it is over there, but here if you eat with the seasons, it's not at all expensive to eat local. On the contrary, it's cheap. Now growing your own food is a different story. From my own experience, I can say it takes some money (water bills and all that), a whole lot of knowhow, and plenty of time. I'd rather write and sew, so 2008 I'll just stick to planting a few tomato plants and a few heads of lettuce, and do the AMAP thing.