Community Ag Alliance: Eating local can be challenging but is worth it
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
How do I cook a grass-fed round steak or lamb shoulder roast? What is a hakurei turnip? What should I do with micro greens? The questions are endless when it comes food. But if you believe that what you eat matters and what you buy can make a difference, it’s worth answering those questions.
Shopping, cooking and eating local food sounds idyllic. We can all imagine beautiful fields of thriving green vegetables, pastures of peaceful cattle or sheep grazing on native grasses or chickens clucking and pecking in open fields. Knowing where our food comes from and how it was raised can truly make a difference. But it’s not always easy and can take an extra effort. Community Ag Alliance believes that local food matters and is worth it.
CAA, along with other community partners and more than 60 local food producers, has worked to provide coordinated promotion and sales of local food via the online farmers market at caamarket.org. Our goal is to provide leadership and support for all local food efforts and ultimately, help local producers sell their products to you.
Back to the question about the steak, turnips and micro greens. The answer is simple — try them and use your phone for good. There are many meal planning apps that allow you to put in ingredients, and it will give your suggested recipes. Instead of shopping for a specific recipe, buy what is fresh and local then plan your meal with those ingredients. A few suggested apps include Recipeland, Bigoven, Myfridgefood, Supercook and Allrecipes. Be creative, have fun and try something new.
There is also a myth that local food is expensive, and the grocery store is cheaper.
Most local food is priced comparable, and you are making a true economic impact with every purchase. Think about a head of lettuce. It may cost $2 at the grocery store, and the corporation who owns the store gets the majority of that $2, not the farmer who raised it. That head of lettuce may have been sold to a broker, who stored it in a warehouse then shipped to the corporation distribution center, and finally, it was trucked to our local grocery store. Not only is there a significant financial cost, but there is an environmental impact to the food distribution system. Now consider buying a $3.50 head of lettuce from a local farmer. It may cost a bit more, but the local farmer gets 100% of the purchase price, and it was most likely grown within 20 miles reducing the related transportation. And as a bonus to you, the lettuce was probably harvested a day or two ago, not weeks.
Bottom line, eating local can be challenging, but it’s worth it. Please consider changing your shopping habits and buy local food. You can shop online at caamarket.org or simply stop in the Friday Farmers Market, every Friday inside CAA offices at 141 Ninth St. in downtown Steamboat Springs. It worth it in every way.
Michele Meyer is the executive director of the Community Agriculture Alliance.
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