Write local, go hungry?

I am writing in regards to the piece on eating locally [Edgy Mama, July 23]. As a farmer and mother, I found her supposedly humorous and flippant tone throughout offensive. The title, “Eat Local, Go Hungry?,” was a bad start. My husband and I have a farm and sell at three tailgate/farmers markets in Asheville. We make our living—sometimes with difficulty—from vegetable farming.

The aspects of the piece that bothered me most:

1. Glenn’s whole approach to the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s challenge to eat local for one week was lackadaisical and irresponsible. [That challenge] does require some forethought and planning. If done with this, it is easy to accomplish.

2. Her assertion that “the price per ounce of locally grown … can be many times more than foods shipped thousands of miles away” is incorrect. As a farmer who has done lots of research and price comparisons between local chains such as Ingles and Earth Fare, [I find] the prices at local markets are, for the majority of the time, more affordable. There are many complex food/commodity and farm supports and subsidies that keep food falsely cheap in America. Investigating this matter further before [writing such a] piece would have been wise. As for farmers making a living wage, we are lucky when we do.

Eating locally is different—and important to our community and economy. There is a diversity of vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, cheese, jams, condiments, baked goods, bread, cornmeal, eggs etc., being offered from WNC farms. Instead of offering the standard bananas for kids, go to market starting in May for strawberries, June/July for blueberries, July for blueberries, melons, peaches, and on to watermelons in August and apples in the fall. There is an abundance of good and organic food from North Carolina. Buy local. Get to know the farmer who grows and picks your food. Enjoy a real long Sugar Snax carrot. Become a regular locavore. It’s more than a meal; it’s about farms, farmers, supporting agriculture in our mountains, and what we can create together.

— Nicole DelCogliano
Green Toe Ground Farm

Anne Fitten Glenn responds: I noted in my column that the price of local food “can be” many times more than that of foods shipped from thousands of miles away. One price differential that stuck in my mind was that a pint of blueberries at the North Asheville Tailgate Market was $4 or $5, while a pint of blueberries from Ingles was $2.50. I concluded the article by saying the challenge had “increased my awareness of where my food comes from and showed me how important it is to support folks raising food in my area of the world.” Several readers commented that the column encouraged them to try buying and eating local more—thus, I hope, supporting farmers like you.

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One thought on “Write local, go hungry?

  1. kirstie

    Cheers to Nicole for bringing some perspective and clarity to the local food issue. I think it’s important for people to remember that blogs and personal columns–often mistaken as “news”–are not authoritative information sources. They are entertainment, and they reflect one person’s rendering of their experiences and opinions. Many bloggers’ musings are close in content to diary entries, and knowledge of subject matter need not be a prerequisite. It’s unfortunate that carelessly researched subjects covered in blogs and personal columns often have a wider reach with the public than well-researched, factual articles. Blogs can be fun to read, and entertainment-news hybrids are all the rage these days, so the masses will need extra incentives to get their facts straight before forming flimsy opinions. I appreciated that EM’s blog/column chronicled one busy mom’s experience with trying to bring more local food into her family’s life–probably lots of folks could relate to her challenges. Personally, I have found that buying a share in a CSA is the simplest and most affordable way to eat local. I especially appreciate that Nicole took the time to speak authoritatively, from the perspective of a local organic farmer. I would love to see more factual news/feature pieces that educate readers about local food and ways to understand and address the issues that complicate access and economics.

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