I started reading Barbara Kingsolver's latest non-fiction book yesterday and was inspired. The book follows Kingsolver, her husband, and their two children over a year in which they vowed to eat only food produced in their county. Together, they swore off all food from outside sources, with the exceptions of coffee, chocolate, grains, and olive oil, which they continued to buy from independent manufacturers operating under Fair Trade. The entire family moved to a farm in the Appilachians, where they began to grow their own produce, as well as befriending and purchasing food from neighboring farms, all in an effort to counteract the way America handles food. According to Kingsolver, 17% of our nation's energy use is for agriculture: for processing and transportation. If you think about it, buying tomatoes in January requires jet fuel from Chile, and truck fuel to your local store.
I myself am not ready to swear off all non-locally grown food, but I do really admire the gesture, and I have decided to do my best to buy food seasonally when I can. I already make an effort to buy organic foods from smaller companies, and since I am lucky enough to live in California, where the growing seasons are longer and more frequent, I want to take better advantage of this. So yesterday I went out and bought up the last of the summer produce (sweet corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, beans, and blackberries) and the first of fall (pomegranates [see above, rinsed and ready to freeze]), with the intention of freezing and canning them for use in the winter. I have been buying frozen corn for years, but now I can save my money and maybe make a small difference in the processing, transport, and consumption of that product, if I simply freeze my own.
*To find farmers near you, or canning recipes, check out http://pickyourown.org or http://localharvest.com. Also, if you live in the Bay Area, check out the Local Foods Wheel made by some friends of friends.