Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rethinking Food Distribution

It seems as if all the serious food folks are celebrating local food these days. Not only are we on the brink of the prime produce season in MN, but anyone who cares about the food we put in our bodies can't help but notice that our food distribution is starting to really support local and sustainable growers with incredibly tasty results.

Growing up, I literally thought that food came from Byerly's, not a farm. I've taken up what I would call an obscene interest in both food production and preparation and it has really opened my eyes to the impact it has on our lives - if you are unfamiliar with how far the food system reaches, then you should check out Michael Pollan's books. To me, there is nothing more important than assuring that we are putting the most wholesome food possible into our bodies. No amount of exercise or healthy living can make up for a lifetime of eating modified crap, and that is why I choose to shop organic whenever possible. In addition, I choose to shop local because the food simply tastes better, is fresh and supports local farmers that produce amazing products.

If your shopping habits follow the same guidelines, then you have to be as giddy as I am right now. I can think of several points of food distribution that are right in front of me that I had no idea existed a year ago. I pass by a number of farmers markets and producers that sell directly to consumers every weekend on the way to the cabin. There is literally at least one major farmers market open everyday of the week in the metro area, and on the busier days there are several. If you haven't been to one lately, check it out. You'll be amazed at the variety of produce, meats, baked goods and other artisan foodstuffs. Not only can you purchase goods ready to eat, but now you can purchase wholesome organics to grow on your own. In combination with a strong CSA system, you can have local foods delivered to your door, or grown in your backyard. Even the Arboretum (they sell U of M cheeses, meats and their own vegetables at the summer house) and Tangletown Gardens will sell you something local and delicious.

For anyone who believes it is difficult or expensive to eat and shop local, then all you have to do is open your eyes. Local food is quite literally all around us and if you hit the markets and Co-ops (I love Linden Hills) in the peak season it is beyond affordable as well. We are really lucky to have such a great local food distribution network in place. Now is the time to take advantage. And don't forget to stretch the season - can fresh tomatoes or make and freeze your own sauces. A frozen homemade tomato sauce made from delicious in-season heirlooms will taste worlds better and be less expensive than anything you get from a jar, or worse - has been flown in from Chile in January. The time to embrace our awesome food system is now!

Happy Eating,

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