How Local is Local? Test Case – My Carrots

The movement to eat locally grown food can be relatively easy, or impractically hard, depending on how strictly you follow it. Kris Vester, president of Slow Food Calgary, describes a locally grown organic product as one that is grown locally, is free of pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers and is produced in a way that does not use fossil fuels or any other matter that may affect the environment for future generations.

This definition made me think about the carrots I just harvested from my garden. Geographically, they are as local as you can get. They are free of pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers. I didn’t use fossil fuels to put the seeds into the ground or get the carrots out of the ground.

But what about the seeds themselves? How did the seed company grow and harvest them? How were they transported to the stores where they were sold? I used a fossil fueled vehicle to go buy the seeds and bring them home. The Car Guy used a fossil fueled vehicle to pick up a load of mushroom compost that I dug into the garden (what was in the compost, and how was it made?). I used a fossil fueled mower to cut grass to mulch the garden. I used an electric pump to get the water out of the ground to put on the plants. What kind of fuel was used to manufacture my shovel or garden hose?

There are a whole lot of inputs to consider before you can really claim you have produced an environmentally friendly carrot!
554-carrot-songsIt is always interesting to see what the carrots have been doing under the dark cloak of the earth. While most of the carrots have chosen to grow straight and narrow, there is a surprising variance in length – the long, the short and the tall. Some clearly did it my way, and some will never grow up now.

(Did you catch the song references?  ‘The long and the short and the tall‘ is a war song written by Fred Godfrey in 1917. ‘I did it my way‘ is from a song written by Paul Anka and popularized by Frank Sinatra. ‘I’ll Never Grow Up, Now‘ is a Twisted Sister song. ‘Down the straight and narrow’ is from a song written by Don Schlitz and Paul Overstreet.)

How Local is the food in your stores? Do you grow or raise any of your own food?

Carrots are a great thing to eat when you are hungry and want to stay that way.
– Author Unknown –

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Local.

Post 554

17 thoughts on “How Local is Local? Test Case – My Carrots

  1. Having just moved to the country from the city, I am far more aware of ‘locally grown produce’. We have a farm market nearby that sells local fruit and vegetables as well as local cheeses and dessert product (pies, tarts, jams). I avoid buying these items in the grocery store in favour of making the extra trip to the market (and, yes, they cost a little more, but the taste is worth it!) I like the idea of supporting my neighbours as well as of buying something that hasn’t travelled hundreds or thousands of miles to get here (generally arriving under-ripe and/or tasteless). I already miss the juicy strawberries and melons of the summer (not to mention the delicious tomatoes, corn, carrots, and radishes the size of a baby’s fist) but am enjoying apples, squash and pumpkins grown just down the road. Once you’ve eaten ‘locally’, its not possible to consider picking up the sad looking long-distance fruit and vegetables they sell in the grocery story – never mind serving them for dinner!

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    • We have farmers markets in the cities near us too. Unfortunately, our climate is too cool to grow many of the fruits. In the fall and winter, fresh produce has to travel a long way to reach us, though home grown root crops can be successfully stored long past the time when I have had it up to here with carrots, potatoes and other such veggies!

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  2. Love your end quote. Yes, it never ends with the definition for locally grown organic food. I guess you have to draw the line somewhere. We do not grow anything of our own because the soil here is all caliche rock and impossible to dig into without machines. We do have bushes, but mostly in pots.

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  3. Love the carrot quote!
    I have a huge garden and grow potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers (all varieties), carrots (not so good though), radishes, lettuce, beans (green and yellow), cabbage, peas, watermelons, cantaloupes and pumpkins. I love to can, freeze and dry my produce for our home and for our kids.
    I love the wondering about the use of fossil fuels and what qualifies. I never thought about that angle.

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    • I keep downsizing my garden. So much work and so devastating when it gets smashed by a hail storm. The root crops can usually bounce back though.
      The reason I thought about fossil fuels is because I live on the prairies and we are a fossil fuel producer. We are also a grain growing province, primarily wheat and canola. The challenge will be how to balance the production of bio-fuels against the production of food crops – and would it be better to put more resources into reducing impacts from fossil fuel production…

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  4. I’m smiling as I write this. Your photo of the carrots is fun to see. You have such an interesting way of dissecting stuff. You’re correct of course, starting with the wondering about the seeds and then on to everything else that goes into growing an organic product. 🙂

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    • Thanks! Your crafty photos are so much fun too – loved your home made easel.
      I think we often forget about all that goes into processing and moving the products we use!

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