Reflecting back on last week's "Eat Local Challenge," my main take-away from the experience is to try to be more aware of where all of my food comes from. As I mentioned before—and as many Family Food commenters concurred—it's easy to eat local in Northern California where we have an abundance of fruit, vegetables, seafood, meat, poultry, dairy products, wine right in our backyard. Because of that, I realized that most of the time, I am shopping local, intentionally or not.
Since I was doing the penny-wise challenge—spending no more than $144 to feed my family for the week—I was also trying to be budget-conscious. I realize that a lot of people spend far less than that to feed their families of four, but one of the arguments against eating local is that it's expensive. I took a few exceptions (pasta, coffee, condiments, etc.), but for the most part, eating local wasn't more expensive than the way we normally eat (a mixture of organic and non-organic local and non-local foods). Shopping took a bit longer as I carefully considered each purchase, but that is a learning curve that I know will shorten over time.
Speaking of shopping, eating local is one thing, but shopping local is another. For those of us that live in Silicon Valley, I'd love for you to consider where the grocery store you shop at is based. Is it part of our local community or are they just telling us what we want to hear?
One of my favorite local grocers, Country Sun, has been in the same location since I was a kid. When I worked at the language school next door, that's where I had breakfast or lunch. When Whole Foods opened up nearby, I steeled my resolve to shop Country Sun. And did. And all the while I worried that the small store would be shuttered by the competition.
All these years later, Country Sun still survives and thrives. Now that we are back in Silicon Valley, I try to shop there whenever I can. After doing the Eat Local challenge, I'm putting my money where my mouth is and making that my primary grocery store. One thing I love about Country Sun is that every local product in the store is clearly labeled. Items in the fridge and freezer cases are labeled, items on the shelves are labeled. Produce, of course, is labeled. Eating local is a no-brainer when you shop local.
Is it more expensive than Trader Joe's? Sure. But if we all resolved to eat local and shop local, perhaps the prices will come down. I challenge everyone reading this who lives in Silicon Valley to not just eat local, but to shop local, too. No matter where you live, seek out the local grocers in your community. Because they aren't just talking the talk, they are walking the walk in the face of some stiff competition.