What does truly local food look like?
There’s an energy to spring that is infectious. The sight of long rows of exuberant seedlings straining towards the light speaks to the promise of the season. Rebuilding our very broken local food system takes time, communication, and creative thinking. Every spring is a new opportunity to build on what we’ve learned from years past.
Traveling out to Aylmer on Tuesday, to pick up the delicious spinach and spring mix that you are no doubt enjoying, gave some time to reflect on that. We made stops at three different producers to acquire enough of those delicate greens for The Root Cellar and all of you. From a strict dollars and sense business perspective the trip made very little sense. There wasn’t really enough product to justify the time, and to be honest, spinach and spring from California is far cheaper.
However, if we look at the trip as an investment in our local food system, then it was very valuable indeed. Demonstrating to local producers that there is a strong desire from local eaters for their products as early as possible is great incentive to produce. Traveling to three separate farms is also an investment into the skills that extending the season requires. Each farmer had a unique approach to producing something this early in the year in spite of the past harsh winter. Those skills and their transference to as many as farmers as possible is vital if we are to build greater local food sovereignty. For us, it was also a chance to refresh hibernating relationships with our farming partners, to make plans for the season ahead, and to reaffirm our commitment to always put local first.
These aren’t practices that would flourish inside a rigid corporate model that requires large volumes of specific sizing on specific timelines. They also aren’t practices that would flourish inside a model that has price as its only benchmark for success.
So, here's to a new spring of rejuvenated energy in our local food movement and a continuation of the work of building relationships of respect and collaboration that a vibrant local food economy requires.