So what makes local food local, anyways?

So lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole concept of “local” as it is certainly bandied about a lot. I really got to thinking about this because of some “local” beans selling in our small town grocery store. They were advertised as local Washington grown beans, by the Inaba Family from Eastern Washington. They were priced at $1 a lb sell price and well, looked pretty darn bad. Now just to give you perspective, we’ve picked probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 lbs of beans today, took 4 people about 5 hours to do this. So 20 (wo)man hours. For $1/lb, well…unfortunately my farm does have to turn a profit at the end of the year! Our beans are going more in the neighborhood of $2.50 to $4 a lb, dependent on variety. I would love my local grocery store to sell my beans, and I would give them a wholesale price to be able to do so for a quantity sale, but I certainly would never be able to compete with beans priced at $1/lb retail…And well, customers are used to getting those $1/lb beans so coming in with a bean more at $3/lb even if they were picked fresh that morning and are of the highest quality – well, that’s a bit of a shocker for some!
Yet those Inaba Family beans still can claim the “local” tag? As a farmer less than a mile away from the grocery store with 200+ lbs of beans sitting in my cooler, well…that’s kind of a frustrating situation!
I’ve actually met members of the Inaba Family. Nice folks. Run a lot of acres in, I believe it is the Yakima area. Quite a few hours away. It would take most of us, what about 5 hours, to get from Whidbey to Yakima? Are those beans really local when they are available abundantly on Whidbey Island this time of year?
I think locality means a lot of different things to people. And it can be a small (20 miles) or big area (200 miles). And it can depend on the product. Some things – coffee and chocolate, two of my personal favorites – are great examples of things that, short of major global warming, probably won’t be found growing locally on Whidbey Island. But so many, many things are! And the really cool thing, the more people like you – the consumer – ask for and purchase locally grown items then the more they will be available!
So remember, if you want to support your local farmers make sure that the local product you buy is “local,” at least as far as you define it, and that they are actually farmers! Just because somebody is selling produce at your local farmer’s markets doesn’t always mean they are farmers! Sometimes they are just folks that bought the food off the supply truck and are reselling it, food from who knows where that they have no connection to! I was dismayed to read these articles…
http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/2000-04-01/Real-Versus-Fake-Farmers.aspx
http://www.chow.com/media/2555
Those of us working our the Willowood Farm market booths can assure you, we’ve all had a lot of one-on-one hours – lots and lots of hours – getting to know the beans, and other veggies, we offer for your eating pleasure! And on that note…
Coming to the Coupeville and Bayview markets tomorrow –
From Willowood Farm
– Potatoes – 4 lovely kinds even a fingerling this week!
– Garlic, garlic and more garlic…
– Beans. Oh, did we mention beans? We have 4 kinds – all the colors of the rainbow and so yummy!
– Gorgeous dwarf snow peas
– Fresh chickpea bunches! These are a very short season treat, incredibly tasty and we will bring recipes!
– Beet bunches – 2 kinds!
– Onions – Red Torpedos, Cippolinis, Tropeana Tondas…
– Broccoli
– HUGE kohlrabi
– Lovely savoy cabbage – one of our favorites!
– Kale and chard bunches

From Prairie Bottom Farm
– Big, sweet carrots
– Beet bottoms for canning
– Dill – for making Dilly Beans!
– More onions
– Even more beans…
– Fava Beans
And more…

We hope to see you there and THANK YOU! for supporting local farmers!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey’s Prairie

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