Yesterday I ventured out to implement two steps in my ethical eating plan: finding food that is raised organically at a local farm. Not as easy as it might sound! Through an online search, I found a farm stand in my town whose produce and other products are all certified organic. The farm stand is open only three days a week, although you can order online for pickup on the other four days. The website recommends visits at the less busy times after 3 pm, and that social distancing be observed.
The good news: a great abundance of diverse kinds of vegetables and fruit. The farm sells its produce in individual pieces that are weighed at checkout. The bins and boxes are labeled, which is good for those of us who don’t recognize all the varieties of leafy greens or sweet potatoes! You can browse the aisles making your selections.
The not-so-easy parts: mostly the precautions of social distancing and wearing masks. I think because the website recommends “after 3 pm”, there were a lot of people there – at least for the available space. The four cashiers were wearing masks, but only about half the customers were. And yes, I was wearing mine. Because I did not want to linger, I went through the aisles quickly, picking up more that I could carry in four bags!
Even without the precautionary protocols, there are a few challenges. I discovered that although all the produce is certified organic, it is not necessarily grown on a local farm. The blueberries, for example, were from California. Even the strawberries, which are abundant in Florida, were from out of state. When I read the stickers and labels once I was home, I discovered fruit that had been imported from the Netherlands!
The real challenge: when produce is not both local and organic, which one has priority? I can find organic produce from California in the grocery store that is 4 miles from my house, where the local organic farm stand is 17 miles. While I am saving the earth with organically raised vegetables, I am using four times the fossil fuel to get there! If I buy from the farmers’ markets when they re-open, the produce is more likely to be local, but not necessarily organically raised. Even if the food in neither local nor organic, is it better to buy from local farmers than from large grocery chains?
I realized yesterday that it is too soon for me to shop at local farm stands or farmers’ markets. I am still too uncomfortable with masks and social distancing. I may need to take steps to ethical eating one vegetable at a time: order vegetables and fruit that are both organic and local for pickup from the organic farm, and buy the rest as best I can from my local grocery store.