Yesterday I went to the Midtown Farmer's Market. I bought some corn, lettuce, carrots, potatoes, and raspberries. The raspberries were from Peter's Pumpkin and are shown below.
There are some questions as to whether or not buying from your local farmer's market is more eco-friendly in terms of the energy required to transport the goods, but more on that in another blog entry.
I also picked up some almonds. They were flavored with a tangy bbq spice by a local family. The almonds themselves come from California, but I bought some raw ones before I asked where they were from. I feel like such a sinner.
The almond guy said that he had found some almond trees that supposedly grow in zone 4. We're in zone 5 -- although we used to be zone 6. Thanks, Global Warming! He said that he would soon be trying to grow some here in Minnesota in which case they will be the first almond farmers here.
Is it cheating to buy almonds when they come from California? What if they are roasted locally? They are really good for you. Does that make a difference?
A similar conflict arose when my husband wanted to bake some cookies. He's started to just starting lumping various items that he doesn't want to give up under the "Marco Polo Rule." He makes really good cookies and they require a lot of ingredients that can easily be obtained locally (eggs, butter, flour) and some that cannot be (white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, chocolate chips). I have to admit that I am reluctant to try his cookies with maple sugar or molasses or any other sweetener that we can get locally. Would you be able to give these up?
The other question that came up was the flour issue. Minneapolis was originally a milling town. In fact, Gold Medal flour was one of the products that was originally milled on the banks of the Mississippi here.
The mills are all shut down now, but General Mills is still headquartered here. I haven't been able to find out where Gold Medal Flour is milled now or where they get their wheat from. But let's say that the wheat isn't from here and that the flour isn't produced here, does it still count as local because the company is based here? Aren't I still supported some sector of the local economy by buying the flour? Or does buying local mean necessarily supporting local farmers and small business and NOT supporting larger companies like General Mills that distribute goods all over the world and get their raw materials from all over the place?
I'm hoping to track down more information about Gold Medal Flour, but in the meantime, I'm wondering if even if it is from local farmers and produced locally, using their flour might not be in the spirit of the localist movement.