25 April 2011

A Year of Eating Locally

A year ago in April, Friend of the Market Jane Pellicciotto began to wonder where her food dollars were going.  As a frequent shopper of farmers’ markets, Jane believed in the benefits of purchasing local, seasonal food directly from the hands who had grown or produced it, so she made a decision: she was going to put her money where her mouth was by tracking how much she was spending on local food—and record the results for an entire year.

Below you will find some highlights from Jane’s journey, including the utterly charming visual logs she created each month along with other musings and conclusions.  For an in-depth look at Jane’s yearlong endeavor, visit her blog. Click on each produce log below for more details on that particular month.

Year at a Glance:

April produce May produce June produce
April: in the beginning May: asparagus, radishes, fennel, raabs June: peas, zucchini, artichokes, kohlrabi
July produce August produce September produce
July: berries, arugula, artichokes. beans, carrots August: Is there folly in local? Sept: fennel, melon, peppers, peaches, tomatoes, plums
October produce November produce December produce
October: squash, apples, pears, peppers, soup makings November: sunchoke, cranberry, greens, romanesco December: finding local in winter, root veg, cabbage, pears
January produce February produce March produce
January: enjoying chicories and root veg February: making time to nourish March: final tally, eating well, what’s next

Total Produce Costs

Local produce: $748.48 (81% of total)
Non-local produce: $178.43 (19% of total)
Total produce: $926.91

What Is Local Anyway?

My definition of local could be debated. I included Oregon and Washington. A Washington carrot might have less far to travel to Portland than would an Oregon carrot, given that Portland sits at the border of Washington State. I also knew that it would be hard to find out where that cameo apple was from in Washington—500 miles away, or only 50? Grocery store clerks don’t know that kind of thing. To keep it simple, I included the whole state.

Why I Like Buying Local

• I’m more connected to the producer.
• The food is about as fresh as it can get.
• I feel pretty confident the food is grown in safe conditions.
• Waiting until an item is in season makes me appreciate it more.
• I know that more of my dollar is kept in the local economy.
• When you buy local, you’re more likely to commune with other people.
• Picking produce at a farm (or in your garden) gets you outside enjoying fresh air.

Thank you, Jane, for sharing your journey with us!