Jun 02, 2011 Ami Olson Uncategorized
For all the well-intentioned emphasis put on buying locally and supporting independent business, the concept can be overwhelming to the point of discouraging.
But Martin Butts, owner of Small Potatoes Sales & Marketing , says there’s an easy starting point: walk into your pantry, (or open your cupboards), and pick one item to switch.
Select just one item to routinely purchase from a local source, something you can find from a local producer, or that you can purchase from an independent seller. Then, when you get used to it, pick another.
The key to “switching your sourcing,” Butts says, is finding a way to do it in a manageable, sustainable way.
Overhauling the way you eat entirely, all at once, is too much to expect from the average consumer.
“I hear from people all the time, that ‘that’s just unreasonable’,” says Butts. “And I would never ask people to do that.”
Narrowing down your reasons for localizing will help determine the boundaries of what you consider local, Butts says.
“For the people that are doing it, there’s always a reason,” he says. “For some people it’s supporting local businesses, for some its eating seasonally, or making healthier choices.”
Your reasons will impact whether your definition of local — which is different for everyone, Butts says.
For some, it means only purchasing foods produced within a certain distance from their home. For others, “local” products might still use imported ingredients, but be prepared in small batches by a local manufacturer.
There’s no right or wrong, but knowing your definition and your goal in emphasizing local will help make better, more sustainable changes, Butts says.
Butts says he wouldn’t expect someone to undergo a complete lifestyle change for the sake of local — but take a 30-day challenge? Why not?
The 2nd Annual New York State Locavore Challenge kicks off Sept. 1, which means you have three months to start getting in the habit of local eating. Organized by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, the challenge aims to engage 5,000 people in the month-long campaign to raise awareness about local, organic and sustainable eating.
Participants agree to cook only with in-season, local organic foods throughout the for a day, week or month during September.
Whether you’re “training” for the Locavore Challenge or just want to shift your habits more locally, here are some easy-to-find staples produced by local farms and companies to get you started:
Here are some easy-to-find staples produced by local farms and companies to get you started:
Butts noted there’s been an emphasis on growing local grains, and Flour City Pasta’s whole grain varieties are made locally, using locally grown grains.
“A lot of people think these foods can’t be made locally,” said Amanda Gormley, marketing and member service coordinator at Syracuse Real Food Co-op .
She pointed out Farmer Grown Flour, flour grown, ground and processed in Trumansburg.
“Flour from start to finish made in New York!” she said.
Eggs and dairy
It’s almost a challenge to find a dairy product not available from a local source. Wake Robin Farm in Jordan produces yogurt and cheeses that originate in the hay fields from which the Jersey cows munch, and a variety of cheeses are available year-round at many grocers. Farm-fresh eggs (if you aren’t raising hens at home) , are available at farmer’s markets.
Peanut butter and jellies
Did you know you could skip the Jif (and the Skippy), and opt for a local version of this cupboard staple? Pick up homemade jams and jellies at a farmer’s market for the ultimate homegrown PB&J — or bring the berries home and preserve them yourself.
“First place I tell people to go is of course the Regional Market,” Butts says.
A new signage program at the Regional Market will soon make it easier for shoppers to see right away which vendors are local, he added.
Jeremy DeChario, head cashier at Syracuse Real Food Co-op said local tomatoes get customers excited, especially in the dead of winter.
They’re hydroponically grown in Fulton, and available year-round, DeChario said.
But in the spring, it’s the fiddleheads and ramps that locavores lust after in the produce section.
Gormely said federal subsidies drive most local farmers to produce corn and soy.
But Tony Potenza Organics in Trumansburg is harvesting black turtle beans, and they’re available at the Co-op.
“It’s exciting for us when we see farmers trying something different,” Gormely said.
Beef, chicken, pork, and more, raised in pastures so close you could drive by them on your lunch hour.
If you’re a compassionate carnivore who wants to know more about where your food is coming from, and how it’s raised and treated in the meantime, the close relationships between the farmers who raise the livestock and the grocers who supply it is a perk of buying local.
Standing in front of the meat case at the Co-op, Gormley excitedly described each farm that supplies local meat, including the newest addition, Ingallside Meadows Farm in Cazenovia.
What happens when climate and other factors eliminate the option of purchasing an item from a local source?
The next best thing, Butts says, is to buy the item from an independent local business. And when it comes to coffee, the list of local roasters means there’s no excuse to buy your beans from anyone but a local producer.
“A lot of the reason is to support local business, so if it doesn’t grow here but it is produced here. It makes the cut,” Butts said.
Catch Martin Butts Saturday June 4 at the Funky Flea one-day market on the corner of Marcellus and Wyoming streets, or find out more about Small Potatoes Sales & Marketing at smallpotatoes.blogspot.com .