Organic and Local

I crossed a new line line and it's not pretty. Last night babysitting for a friend I went through her refrigerator. And I took notes.

Before I tell what I found let me say nearly everything was labeled organic; my friend is a good mom and organic says, I love my family, I care about the planet. Organic looks good in the check out line as every retailer is discovering. But it's only part of the story. Where food originates is equally important in terms of the amount of resources used in its packaging and delivery.

Not a part of the story that's as sexy as the cherries I found on the top shelf. They were lookers; each one of them. Canned in spiked up sugar water from Germany. Next to them was an orgy of peaches stacked one on top of the other, slick in a syrup of grape juice from Spain.

"The milk, butter and eggs are local," I yelled to the living room scribbling on a sticky stuck to the counter. It was a rerun of Gladys Kravitz from Bewitched. "Ummm, ummmm," the cute guy replied. "Why don't you come sit down." He never lifted his head from his sailing book.

I moved to the bags of fruit; lemons and oranges from Australia, apples from New Zealand. This was the shelf of fake lashes and blue eyeshadow. The sexiness was wearing off. And then there were plastic bags from the USA of albino lettuce heads and stubby facsimiles of carrots. "The plums have stickers."

"Shut the door," came the reply from the living room. I put the canola oil from New York back on the door and closed it.

"There's stickers on the potatoes too!" I picked one up from the bowl on the counter. The cute guy called my name. He snapped me out of it.

"Sit down and have a drink," he said handing me the water bottle. I opened my mouth. "I know," he said. "It's okay."

"All those planes and ships. New Zealand, Germany." I handed him my notes. He stuck them to the front of his book, Small Boat to Freedom.

"Can I read you something," he asked. "This guy was sailing from ....."

I laid down and covered my eyes.


El said...

Just to throw a wrench in the works, K, I've got a book for you to read which actually does a very good job of helping one decide if local is truly (and absolutely) better. It's called The Ethics of What We Eat by Peter Singer and Jim Mason.

The reason I mention it is, well, we don't all have the good fortune to live in such a varied and beautiful foodshed as your own, so lots of folks do need to import SOMETHING, if not most things. And you're right: your friend has gotten half the picture (organic = good) but she's missing the other half (distance = bad).

Anyway, it's a good read, it'll make you think, blah blah. It certainly has nudged me more in the direction of producing my own meat (and me, a vegetarian of 20 years), despite the fact that Mr. Singer is the uberVegan.

the takeout queen said...

Oh my you are going off the deep end! And did you say anything to our friend (I do know who she is), or did the cute guy appropriately restrain you?

And, I love you all the more for it.

kale for sale said...

El, Wrenches are good. Thanks for the book recommendation! I'll check it out. I love the conversation about what each of us can do to be part of the solution and the variety of actions that happen as a result.

TQ, He restrained me.

Emily said...

Note to self:
Never, NEVER, let Katrina get near my fridge.

El said...

Hey again, K

Just read this article and thought of you:

(It is all a juggle, I'm telling you!)

kale for sale said...

Emily - I'll just be the dishwasher forever more. I deserve it!

El- The last line was my favorite ... we do give a damn about we eat!

TQ said...

I'm with Emily!