Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Local food is good food

I’m currently reading a book titled The Town that Food Saved. The jacket liner describes the it as: “Lively, funny and candid, The Town that Food Saved tells the fascinating story of an unassuming community and its extraordinary determination to build a vibrant local food system unlike anything in America.”

In the early pages the author explores the transition of Hardwick, Vermont from a manufacturing economy to a new food economy based upon several different boutique enterprises: artisanal cheese, tofu production, yogurt, a seed company, composting, and apiaries. What caught my attention, on page 70 was his exposition on how much of the products from the above companies leave the local economy for sale in the more upscale economies of Boston, New York City and San Francisco. The author, Ben Hewitt, poses a question that had lurked in the background of his consciousness, which is: If local boutique food producers are actually concerned with local production, shouldn’t they be creating a product that local buyers can and will (can afford to) buy?

On a local scale in and around Oswego County I’m wondering the same thing. As we imagine the transition that may occur with the decline of peak petroleum to a more local food economy, I’m wondering are there similar ventures? The answer is “yes.”

Over the last several months I’ve researched local producers as a means of informing discussion in the SUNY Oswego Citizens Academy. I’ve visited two local farms—Grindstone Farm, and Happy Hooves Organic Farm. Both of these farms sell their own product to consumers locally, which increasingly local consumers choose and are able to afford. I’m hoping that over time we will see more businesses, not only producing products locally, but that are of course serving local consumers.

Let me introduce you to the two I mention above:
Grindstone Farm, with“…over 25 years of rich experience in growing a wide range of high quality, certified organic fruits, vegetables, and other organic items, … has become a well-known leader in Central New York. Providing a full line of produce, sometimes more than 120 varieties, you'll find everything from A (asparagus and arugula) to Z (zucchini and zinnia).”

Happy Hooves Organic Farm focuses on meat production including beef, pork, venison and chickens. Their website states: “We… have pastured pork, free range turkeys, free range chicken eggs, farm-raised venison, and home grown horseradish and rhubarb for tasty condiment sauces for those delicious meats and sides. Everything we do here is organic and as much space and free range is allowed our animals as permitted for their own safety. This gives you the maximum health benefits from your food that you can find.”

Next time you are considering buying organic, consider buying local if possible. More information about these two producers can be found on their websites at: http://www.grindstonefarm.com/ and http://www.betterbeef4u.com/ .

-Thad Mantaro, SUNY Oswego

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