Jim here... Until our home sells (SOON!!!) and Wendi and I launch ourselves into the world as full-time raw food teachers / lecturers / inspiration providers, I'm more or less stuck in the corporate world during the day. While much of what happens in this Dilbert-esque environment is, as many of you likely know, absolutely meaningless, there is nonetheless the occasional pearl of wisdom to be pried from the clammy jaws of the 9-to-5 world. I was, for example, just reminded of a story I heard at a seminar once. Not surprisingly, the seminar pertained to the art of money making. However, there's another more fulfilling message to it as well.
A large modern newspaper company still uses these ancient printing presses from the 1950s -- huge old monstrosities with enough belts, pulleys, and greasy gearboxes to make any modern-day steampunk enthusiast squeal with delight. One day, not long after the old press manager finally leaves the company, the main press breaks down. Manuals are consulted, technicians brought in, engineers asked to take a peek. No one can bring the beast back to life. But there's a woman on the Internet who specializes in these babies -- and, guess what, she's local! So, they call her in. She listens to their problem and says she can fix it, but it's going to run them $5,000.
An executive looks over at the staff engineers, the lot of them standing around scratching their heads, and reluctantly agrees to her price. The woman then pulls a ball-peen hammer out of her bag and gives the main press a hefty whack, just so. Instantly, the press fires up and starts churning out newspapers. The engineers regard her with the dropped jaws of happy disbelief, but the exec says, "You're going to charge me five thousand dollars for something that took you a few seconds "
She replies: "To you, it took only a few seconds. To me, it took 20 years of working with these presses to understand just where to smack it."
Okay, it was something like that. (I may have embellished a bit here and there.) Anyway, the corporate message had to do with justifying the notion of charging more for your services. But the more universal message behind stories like that is that everyone builds up knowledge about specific things and, in time, it's very easy to take that knowledge for granted, to be unaware that the things that seem easy to you aren't necessarily common knowledge among the general population.
So, how does this apply to raw foods?
Well, produce buying is, I suspect, a big one. Sure, everyone in America buys produce. But, we raw foodies truly live for it! (Heck, we live ON it!) And when that's your level of awareness about your food, you pick up a few tips and tricks along the way that you likely take for granted. So, the purpose of this series, which we'll run from time to time here, is for us to attempt to become aware of the "produce knowledge" that we have accumulated, and to share it with you -- and for FREE (not the $5,000 consulting fee cited above)!
Ooooh, I'm getting hungry just thinking of some of the delicious "produce secrets" I know. (I'll bet you know some, too, right ? If so, feel free to comment, suggest new installments, or to ask questions as they pertain to this topic!) But, I want to cover these in small sections. Today, for example, let's talk about... Buying Local.
We love, love, LOVE buying local when possible. But not just ANY locally grown produce: Local organic is where it's at, IMHO. (After all, what good is a local apple if it's coated in synthetic pesticides? Right ) So, what are the benefits of buying local organic foods ?Well, there are many:
Buying local organic supports local organic farmers. These are the people on the cutting edge of sustainable agriculture -- which is probably the opposite of what many people think in the mainstream world. "Cutting edge" doesn't mean manufacturing a strain of corn with built-in pesticides. (Would you really want to eat that ) I've talked with organic farmers (some of the biggest in the world) and organic is actually technologically advanced stuff -- only, it's the technology of leveraging the power of nature.
Buying local organic makes special, smaller crops available to you. Some things just don't grow well enough to produce on mass scales. So, stopping in at a farmer's market or subscribing to a CSA (see below) means you might luck out and get hold of something you won't find in a mainstream grocery aisle.
Buying local is better for the environment because it reduces our dependency on shipping (saving fuel and pollution) and also requires little or no packaging. (Environmentalism vis-a-vis food is actually a complex point that I touched on long ago, here.)
Buying local organic puts better tasting, more nutritious food on your table. The "local" part means it's going to be about as fresh as is humanly possible (unless, of course, you grow it yourself, which is the pinnacle of rawsomeness, in our view); the "organic" part ensures that your food is the healthiest it can be, as nature intended, with no toxic qualities.
Buying local allows you to interact with the farmers. Quite often, you can direct any questions you have right to the person who grew what you're buying. Think of how incredible this opportunity is compared to the way most people buy food. Can you walk into a Wal-Mart and ask anyone about the apple crop sitting in those boxes from some other country? I think not. So, as I said atop this list, get to know your farmers. They'll likely inspire you to start growing your own!
Buying local organic san save you money. This may not apply to your local organic grocer so much. But, when you're buying from a farmer's market in particular, you're generally buying directly from the source. No middleman often translates into savings for you! But, even if you do buy your organics from a local grocer, and even if they're priced at a premium over mainstream markets, it's still arguable that organics can save you money in the long run. For example, considering the health implications of chemical pesticides and GMO foods, how much might eating them cost you in the future?
Okay, so I mentioned CSAs above. For anyone who doesn't know, this stands for Community-Supported Agriculture. I really like the LocalHarvest.org site for explaining the basics (you pay up front and then get a regular "share" of fresh organic produce throughout the season). And as a bonus for anyone in the U.S., there's a CSA locator feature on that site. (They really should develop that into a worldwide CSA database! If anyone knows of one, drop me an email -- rawdiant [at] gmail.com -- and I'll update this post with a better link).
Below, we have included the original comments from this blog post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.
On May 27, 2009, wrote:
Living in Eastern Ontario, Canada our growing season is very short and finding Organic produce in my small rural town is a challenge. Celery, apples, spinach and some salad greens + imported bananas at the local grocery store round out the list. Several weeks ago tho I came across an ad for an Organic farm that is offering weekly HOME DELIVERY of in season Organic produce in my area. I was ecstatic and signed up for their CSA delivery program right away ! When I asked them about Dinosaur/Lacinato Kale ( Kale was not on their list) he ordered the seed immediately and will have it available for me this summer! Wow. Talk about great customer service. I can't wait to start receiving FRESH, organic,local produce !
On May 29, 2009, wrote:
I love my CSA box, it is the next best thing to growing it myself!
Congrats on winning the book I will send it out soon!