Back in the Land of Plenty

10 Apr

There’s nothing quite like a California strawberry fresh from the market. And there’s nothing like not being able to get one to make me realize that.

I’m back in L.A. after a vacation in central Florida. My parents, who live there, have been duly putting forth the extra effort to find locally grown food. Unfortunately,  they aren’t getting much help, or having much luck. Large chain grocery stores are the norm and many people still aren’t aware of the benefits of local or organic food. Thus, the market is slow to catch on. (And lastly, they just don’t grow a juicy, tasty strawberry in Florida like they do in California.) My parents’ search for local food has mostly had to be limited to food grown in-state, but in some cases they still have to settle for “US grown” and call it a day. There is a local farmers’ market, but it’s held during the work day on Thursday, which makes it inaccessible to many people, including my parents.

Food made and grown locally here is easy to come by.

We are lucky to have farmers’ markets nearly daily and a bevy of small and large restaurants serving fresh food grown close to home.

I do like to walk to the farmers’ market on my lunch break. But if I can’t make it there, chances are, I can find a pretty decent roach coach within a few blocks.

Back in roach coach territory

Yum. But while this is way (way) better than grabbing a meal at Micky D’s, this form of fast food isn’t without some of the same pitfalls.

Check out all the prepackaged and processed snacks and sodas in this photo alone. During a recent lunch break food truck hunt, I was happy to see that my co-worker easily found a tasty, fresh, cheap and yummy vegetarian option. But look at the way it was handed over to her:

...and that's not including the napkins and plastic utensils packed inside the paper bag.

They may be fresh and local, but many food trucks aren’t so green in practice. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t many who are. In fact, there are many who actually specialize in being green kitchens on the go and I’m sure you’ve seen some of them.

Green Truck serves all organic food, uses all environmentally safe cleaning products and utilizes both solar and veggie oil (sometimes previously used to cook your food). All packaging is biodegradable. Let’s Be Frank, purveyors of grass-fed beef hot dogs, works with local producers and composts and recycles over 90% of their waste. They don’t offer any utensils. Both cater and you can follow both on Twitter to track their wanderings in your neighborhood.

But while were on the subject of local, and since Spring is in the air, let’s mention your garden (if you are lucky enough to have one) or the one you are meaning to start. You can’t get any more local than your own balcony, rooftop, backyard or container garden. But more on that in my next post, when I go a-gardening with local experts Heart Beet Gardening.


One Response to “Back in the Land of Plenty”

  1. nhb April 10, 2010 at 6:23 pm #

    A couple of thoughts on the whole ‘eating local’ is better theme. Like many things, it’s not as simple or black and white as it may appear on first blush. In FL, does buying US always mean more local?

    Or is there some place in Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean that’s closer than a US source outside of FL?

    Further, given differences between domestic and foreign food production models, are items in the US inherently better, when one factors in pesticide use and/or other industrial farming practices that increase not only the potential toxins, but also the carbon (and water) footprints of those US foods? Add in the issues around migratory workforces or illegal immigration that might be tied to harvesting in the US, and the benefit/cost model gets even more complicated.

    All of this is not to say we (or your parents) should ever give up the goal of trying to eat the right things; it’s just worth acknowledging that it may not always easy to know what exactly is right…

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