There's a lot of jawing about the benefits of eating locally grown food. Doubters, of course, need something to sow.
The director of the University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program says the fact that something is local doesn't necessarily mean that it is better, environmentally speaking, as reported in a New York Times Sunday thumbsucker:
Consider strawberries. If mass producers of strawberries ship their product to Chicago by truck, the fuel cost of transporting each carton of strawberries is relatively small, since it is tucked into the back along with thousands of others.
But if a farmer sells his strawberries at local farmers' markets in California, he ferries a much smaller amount by pickup truck to each individual market. Which one is better for the environment?
Mr. Tomich said a strawberry distributor did the math on the back of an envelope and concluded that the Chicago-bound berries used less energy for transport. Maybe.
See? It's a tricky topic. If you buy all of your produce, dairy, meat and bread from community supported artisan food networks, then aren't you hurting the livelihoods of your neighbors who work at Fred Meyer or Costco? What's the carbon footprint of a trip to the unemployment line?
I did my locavore part recently. Or did I? I drove to Buckley, a 50something-mile round trip from my house. At Elk Head Brewing Company, I refilled two medicine bottles with 64 ounces of locally brewed beer. My jalopy gets 22 miles to the gallon. The math isn't pretty. Luckily, I'll get a story out it. But I didn't drive all the way out there there for a story; I went for beer.
Elk Head brews with local ingredients. While the coffee that gives Elk Head's Royal Black its silky stoutness surely traveled thousands of miles to Buckley, it was roasted by Dillanos, a brewed-in-Buckley coffee company. Sumac honey comes from Yakima.
And those chanterelle mushrooms that give Chantrale its name and earthy, creamy texture?
"We pick 'em in the woods," said the guy who answered the phone at the best brewery in Buckley.
What kind of local food is on your plate today? In your glass? Or just on your mind? The local food comment lines are open.
Elk Head Brewing Company: 28120 State Route 410 E, Buckley; 360-829-2739