Friday, June 29, 2012

It's Still Cool to be Grown In The USA: Buying Local Food

Much ado is made these days about buying "local" food.  I was confused at first, wondering why I wasn't buying local food. What was I missing?  Here I am a Texan and I buy my oranges from Florida farmers and my strawberries from California farmers!  After several back porch conversations on this subject with the Farmer I Kissed, I discovered that I do buy local.  It's just that my "local" runs from sea to shining sea.  I buy food from American Farmers.  I consider that about as local as you can get. 
We grow cotton...doesn't make for a really great bar-b-q menu!
What I wonder is when did we all stop being neighbors...when did it stop being cool to buy "Grown in the USA?"  I have traveled a lot and met American Farmers from many different states.  They are all just like the Farmer I Kiss: hard working family farmers.  So when I buy cranberries, blueberries and potatoes,  I buy "local"  from someone like the farmers I have met from Maine or Georgia or Idaho.  It doesn't matter to me if my cranberries, blueberries and potatoes come from their farms, from their friend's farms, or from their brother's farms.  I trust that my cranberries, blueberries and potatoes were raised by American Farmers who love the land, care about my food and adhere to strict, regulated  guidelines while raising that food.  Besides, we are cotton farmers living on the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert!  We can't raise cranberries, blueberries or potatoes.  Someone tell me how the heck you have a 4th of July picnic without cranberry Jell-O surprise, blueberries decorating the cake and Mom's potato salad? 

Can't have a proper 4th of July picnic without this!!
There are lots of folks who want to personally know the farmer who grows their food so they can know how he raises that food.  I think that's cool.  I could get up at 6:00 AM on Saturday and stand in line to buy tomatoes from one of my friends who sells his garden produce at the Concho Valley Farmers Market.  Frankly, I would rather sleep.  I know farmers, I kiss one of them and I trust the kind of people who are out there raising my food and fiber all across this incredible nation.  I also trust that agriculture will continue to adapt and change to answer American's needs and concerns so that once again everyone can feel as good as I do about buying "Grown in the USA" anywhere and everywhere across America. As for right now,  I'm going shopping, to a grocery store, to buy "local" pineapples from the farmer I actually met while I was in Hawaii (or who knows, maybe it will be from one of his friend's pineapple farms.)  I'm going to use it in my frozen drink this afternoon as I help the Farmer I Kissed get our back porch cleaned up for that 4th of July Picnic.

Happy Birthday America!


  1. Excellent Suzie - Local is a grand idea. My Texas AG Talks Blog partner Mike Barnett spends a lot of time at farmers markets. I do go, but not as much. Local is a great marketing tool, but runs the risk of a caricature of itself, thrown in with all the silliness of "real food," "slow food," and so on. I heard a new one last night - Food Forests. Okay, I need to research that one. Just remember that all food is local somewhere. The fact that we have the best and safest food supply on Earth and in the history of our grand old planet is another reason to celebrate the 4th of July!

  2. Just my point Gene, all farmers are someone's neighbor and grow "local" food for that neighbor. Out here on the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert, we don't have any food producing neighbors, so I guess we have grown used to trusting farmers from all over the U. S. to produce safe, abundent and affordable food for us.

  3. Some reasons to buy local where possible:
    1) Better taste and nutrition. The tomatoes from your local market should be way better than some that have been shipped halfway across the country. They will be fresher obviously but also will probably be a variety that comes with taste over shipability and shelf-life.
    2) Avoiding huge food miles and thus fossil fuel consumption.
    3) Helping the local economy thrive. The more money that stays circulating in a community, especially a rural one, the better that community will do.
    4) Building a better community by fostering more face to face interactions with primary suppliers, rather than faceless transactions at a supermarket.
    5) Seasonality. At a supermarket you'd think strawberries are in season 12 months of the year. Buying local gets you in tune with what's in season and you get fruit and veg at it's best.

    1. Hi Dave, thanks so much for reading! Your comments are right on for areas that have local food available. Out here next to the Chihuahuan Desert, the only local food might be the summer time watermelons. as long as it's not a drought and heat wave like the last few years! We have a Texas supermarket chain called HEB that specializes in Texas produce, eggs, meat and fish from the gulf coast. Thats the only "local" we have available. Our farmers market, which is open two days a week for about 4 months sells out of the garden tomatoes and sweet corn the eight or ten vendors try to grow by about 8:30. So bottom line, if available, local is a grand idea. When stuck out in the middle of the desert, Grown In the U.S.A. is also a grand idea!