Food Security, Food Sustainability, Local Food availability

Is Local Just Too Gucci?

I’m starting to realize that, because people want locally grown produce at a groundswell-movement level, it has become a luxury of sorts. Why? Are some people perhaps taking advantage of the demand to push prices up? Not to be too “mother earth” about this, but we are all human beings on a planet that is beginning to groan with the weight of supporting all of us and our acquisitive natures.

Maybe there needs to be less “what’s in it for me” and more “what can I do to help out”? People for Good is giving it a shot. It seems a bit vague right now, but there are people willing to put their money where there hearts are.

When I lost my husband in March last year, my world fell apart. But Ray and I were never the kind of couple that let tragedy get in our way. I wasn’t going to be that kind of widow. I felt inspired by my loss. I felt motivated to make something better out of it. And that’s why I’m working on Dangling the Local Carrot. I will do many more things like this, but this is my “training-wheels project” to learn some of the skills to make change happen.

What concerns me at this point in my current learning curve is that what attracted me to working on this project is a cultural meme — and people have jumped on it like a fat kid on a Smartie to find a way to make it hugely profitable. Local is the new “gold standard” and, just because it’s local, it’s a lot more expensive.

But why does it cost that much more when it gets to an urban farmer’s market where people will trample each other for cute little pattypan squashes?

I had a fabulous talk with Linda Delli Santi, Executive Director of BC Greenhouse Growers Association this afternoon. She gave me a quick flyover of what the greenhouse business is all about. She’s had a lot of hands-on experience, having run her own greenhouse farm for years. It’s not simple. You need to consider that land and labour are both expensive in North America. Granted, the greenhouses make incredibly good use of the land they use, growing up instead of out, but it still costs a lot to get a tomato to pop out of them. I don’t argue with the fact that, for so many reasons, it costs more to grow something locally than it does to bring it from Mexico. But why does it cost that much more when it gets to an urban farmer’s market where people will trample each other for cute little pattypan squashes?

My goal is to find a way to make local produce more accessible and more affordable in Metro Vancouver.

I repeat that to myself every 1/2 hour to remind myself of what I’m doing. It’s so easy to get lost down a rabbit hole doing research like this. If I want to find a way to make it more accessible and more affordable, that means finding a way to green some of the urban food deserts and, if not to make local less expensive, then to make it no more expensive for people who can’t drive to it than for people who can.

I can’t change the law of supply and demand, but there has to be another (well many others, actually) way to crack this local hazelnut. It’s not Gucci. It’s just a nut.

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One thought on “Is Local Just Too Gucci?

  1. Well said. There has been a growing stigma with creating markets for organic, locally grown food that seems to be some new fad, when this was the only way food has been grown and distributed since the dawn of man. It’s funny how normal has evolved to pesticide and GMO laden produce at our supermarkets.

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