local focus

December 13, 2010

Have you ever thought about what you consume and how much of it is produced locally?  Have you ever considered making an effort at localizing the majority of your consumptionistic tendencies?  (I know I made that word up.  Who cares.)

This is something that has been on my mind for quite a while now, and I’ll admit it is becoming something of an obsession.  (Even though I’ve been putting of writing about it, [ambitious?procrastinator?] I swear, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it for months.)  It’s a challenge.  If it’s something I like, can I find it locally?  How much do I consume that is made/ produced/ manufactured around the world?  Could I actually find the same product made by someone close to home?

Yes, it’s a global economy.  Amazing things are fabricated by combining things from different corners of the globe.  But here, in the Finger Lakes, we have opportunities to create wonderful things all on our own, with all things local.

The benefits are numerous.  To me, it’s easily simplified though- especially with food items.  If I can connect a face and a name (maybe even a voice?  and some personal interaction?) to a product that I’m purchasing, not only does it give me the warm fuzzies (you know you get ‘em too), but it also gives me a boost of confidence about the actual goods I’m taking home.

So I really got to thinking.  How much do I eat that could be sourced locally?  Could I take an entire week and only consume locally produced products?  What would my options be?

Let’s start with my morning.  Juice.  Easy.  Red Jacket Orchards, right here in Geneva where I recently relocated to.   Now coffee, with cream and sugar.  I can use Upstate Farms half and half (or milk).  And the coffee is easy- Keuka Lake Coffee Roasters… but wait… the beans are roasted here, but there’s no way in hell we can grow coffee beans in New York.  And sugar?  Growing sugar cane? Please.

I’ve barely gotten into my day and this throws me for a loop.  Everything that I would have to shun for a week of doing a purist local food focus comes to my mind.  Do I go with just manufacturing locally, or total production- every little stinkin’ bit- from start to end?  Would I have to give up olive oil?  And CHOCOLATE? And if it’s a prepared food, like bread, would all the components that helped make it, including mixers and ovens, need to be from local manufacturers too?  (I admit, that might be taking it a little bit too far… but this is part of why I’ve been thinking about it all so much.)

Dramatics aside, I do believe, even in the dead of winter, that I can spend an entire week having the major products that I consume come from local companies, farms, manufacturers, etc.

There are a variety of resources I’ve found, one of my favorites so far being a pdf available from the Ontario County Ag website showing, by month, the availability of local produce and when seasonally planned harvests take place.  (From this chart, you can see quite clearly, that December downright sucks for finding local produce in season.  [But March is worse.]  This comes as no surprise, especially considering the amount of snow we’ve had dumped on us this past week.  That makes for not great outdoor growing.)  Finger Lakes Culinary Bounty also has a site packed with information about local restaurants, events, and many other things supporting the local food movement.  Even better?  Edible Finger Lakes, part of the Edible Communities network, has been in publication since at least 2008, pointing a finger in all the right directions for those of us that are looking for more local focus in our lives.

I gave it more thought.  To really do this right, I’ll need to go through my cupboards and use up things I have that are not local.  February will be my goal, which yes, means even less options for the fresh produce that I so love. (But hey, I can eat a bunch of eggs and cheese too, no problem.)  I’ll choose the exact week at a later date, but for right now I think February will be a good fit.  Doing this now, making it more difficult, will make eating locally in the “on” season an easy habit.

So now I’ll ask this.  Are you willing to try it too?  I won’t set this up as a specific “challenge”, like some blogs do… mainly because I don’t have any fun prizes to give away and stuff like that… but it certainly would be more fun doing it knowing there are others giving it a shot as well.  (You don’t even have to live in the Finger Lakes area- if you’re in a large city you’re lucky because you most likely have a farmers market that goes through the winter and makes locally sourced products very accessible.)  Anyone can do it anywhere, just figure out what you might consider “local”.  It could be a 50 mile radius from your home, for example, or a generally defined geographical region like the Finger Lakes.  Input and suggestions are welcome, even if you don’t want to participate.

I’ll do more research and probably organize general menus for myself, planning ahead on what I’ll have for the week and what my exceptions will be (you can bet coffee and olive oil and chocolate will be on that list), and I’ll post them as a starting point or guide for anyone participating.

Oh, and think about this.  For those in the Finger Lakes Region, not only do we have hundreds of local wineries to choose from, but numerous breweries and even a distillery… so we won’t have to suffer through without a drink!

  • http://www.ohthoseboys.com Chris

    I liek pie.

  • http://www.thrive-style.com Lisa

    I’ll consider doing it, but I don’t know what I would eat—there’s no way I’m eating eggs and cheese for a week!

  • Dad

    Great idea Kyle. What might be a great motivator would be a score card of sorts (I’m not looking to kill the fun here, just trying to build some momentum). Find someone who is good with numbers/charts and things and set up a general guide for keeping score. Say grown and processed in NY state 5 points, grown and processed within the county where you live 10 points. Minus 2 points for grown or processed beyond a 150 mile radius of home, etc.. End of month scores over 500 get 10 Attaboys/Attagirls. Under 50 points for the months you get a free swim in Seneca lake in March. As a means of verification, all points claims must be accompanied by a sharing of source and price info. Any takers? I, of course, will be cheering from the sidelines. Go for it!!!

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