by guest blogger Adele Hall of Harvest and Home
This is the first post in our series of guest bloggers from the Columbus community that write about making a difference in the way we think about food. Adele graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor's degree in environmental geography and currently lives in Lancaster, Ohio in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. She's come to adopt a slower pace of life, but a meaningful one at best. Adele works part time as a florist and part time as a writer, food photographer, and local food advocate. She has written for the Green Optimistic on renewable energy and green technology. Now motivated by the pitfalls of our modern food system and the beauty of pastoralism, she writes on her blog to help people eat in a sustainable way. She shares recipes, tips for eating sustainably and online resources. See more at Harvest and Home.
If you know anything about me, you know that I love to cook. It wasn’t always that way though. My priorities have shifted over the years. I am newly engaged and soon I will have a family of mouths to feed. In all my recipe developing and food photography that I do so meticulously, I realized I had left out a critical component – one that was part and parcel to earning my degree. I became consciously aware that I was using ingredients in my cooking that were not local or seasonal. If there’s any environmental issue I am most passionate about, it’s the local food movement and sustainable agriculture. Somehow we’ve become so disconnected with our food and we don’t know how to get back. The reality is wholesome and sustainable food is out there, you just need to know where to look. I want to show the average American how they can live off the land – whether they do it themselves through gardening or raising chickens, supporting local farmers by subscribing to a CSA (community supported agriculture) or going to a farmers market.
The first and easiest change I made was buying local eggs. It took me a while to find a steady provider, but once I did, I have never gone back to store bought eggs. The owners of the flower shop I work at raise chickens and they sell them at 2.50 a dozen. The eggs are brown and they vary in size. In contrast, the eggs you buy from the store are typically white and they are uniform in size. We are given this notion that these are farm fresh eggs, that white and uniform is a sign of purity, and with packaging that reminds us of the agrarian days. The reality is chickens that are so confined during their short lives that their bones and muscles deteriorate, effectively disabling them.
In contrast, I can visit these free roaming chickens who are providing me with eggs. I can walk out and feed them, give them water, etc. And then I can have my omelet or scrambled eggs and feel good about it. The yolk is much more yellow and rich in color – and it tastes better too! In the documentary Farmageddon, Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms talks about how this connection to our food should be romantic. And there is a certain romance to it when we can go to the farm, talk to the farmer, and see the animals that are to be consumed. It’s beautiful.
The choice is yours whether you want to go farm fresh or not. For me, even though $2.50 a dozen is more than what I would pay at the grocery store, I like that my dollars are going towards a local farmer or someone who simply raises chickens. And I like that my dollars aren’t going towards factory farms and multinational companies. Local Harvest is a great website where you can find farms near you or subscribe to a CSA. I would also try asking around in your community to see who sells eggs in your area.
What are your experiences buying local? Do you have a local favorite? Comment below!