Feb 6

Thoughts on Eating Local…from San Francisco

Walking around the CUESA Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, my senses (all of them) are in overload. My eyes can’t open any wider. My mouth is watering. And my family is home in Connecticut digging out from snowstorm after snowstorm, eating the frozen soups that I left behind and praying there won’t be another snow day this coming week (okay, so maybe my husband and my children are saying different prayers).

My work is based on teaching the value of minimally processed for maximum nutrition. Organic. Locally Grown. Sustainable good health. I’m the last person who should be asking this question. But really… Is it sustainable?

Here in beautiful California, every food group is represented locally – fresh produce in every color of the rainbow, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes. Back in Connecticut, with minimal sunlight each day in the greenhouses, the greens are growing in slow motion, there are no local grains, the legumes come from upstate New York if not further, and most of the produce is wintering over. If I eat any more squash, I’m likely to turn into one.

Broccoli Romanesco - One of many items you'd be hard pressed to find in the Northeast.

Fresh fruit and dried fruit in abundance.

This is the plight of a frustrated Northeastern Locavore. It’s easy to say what we “should” do, based on the mantra of sustainability. But is my health really being well served? Maybe there’s a well-established reason for fair trade that allows us to be nourished as a nation, and prevents our individual communities from starving. I’m a card-carrying leader of clean, local and sustainable, but today I am wondering.

What do you think? … and please be sure to mention where you’re from!

Cherimoya - Native to South America, these delicious fruit taste like banana, pineapple, papaya, peach and strawberry all in one. We definitely don't grow these in the NE!

Special thanks to Sarah from CUESA for hosting my event at the Farmers Market!

Sending wishes for clean nourishment and balance to all, but especially my friends living in the state of winter.

Eat Clean Live Well.



  1. Posted February 7, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Nice post Terry. I too live in a 4 season climate with limited winter produce. So to eat “fresh” is not to eat local–most comes from CA. But now I’m worried because of recent news that some produce at farmer’s markets was not actually produced locally at all, but imported from a foreign (Mexico, South America) market. It makes me wonder about the produce in stores too. Do we really even know where it comes from?

  2. Posted February 11, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Hi Kim & Krystal, Your experience, unfortunately, is not unique! I was working at a farmers market this past spring (at the Urban Oaks Organic Farm booth) and another local farmer, who is also certified organic, had the biggest carrots we’d ever seen. No other local farm even had carrots at that early date! To say it was suspicious is an understatement! So, clearly, we need to always ask. The more we get to know our farmer and the source of our food, the better we can serve ourselves and our good nutrition. The good news is that the choice is still ours. Most booths at farmers markets say exactly who the farm/farmer is, where they are from and how it is grown. And, if it doesn’t – whether you’re at a farmers market or a conventional grocery store – just keep on asking. Expressing our desire for locally grown organic produce is the most grassroots, effective way of creating demand for the changes we wish to see.

  3. Posted February 10, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Kim, I have the same experience as you. While talking to the garlic farmer at the market this summer, he informed me that of the 80 or so stalls present, only 13 (!) where manned by local farms that grew all their own produce. The rest were businesses with some home-grown, some locally-grown, and some imported produce. I mean, it’s obvious when you see citrus fruit in the NE it’s not from nearby, but I think we have so much more to offer than just 13 out of 80 stalls!

    As for sustainable local eating – That’s what canning and freezers are for! It just takes a little more effort…

  4. Posted February 11, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your great talk in Santa Rosa. I had to leave early so didn’t get to taste your wonderful recipes.

    As for the comment above, I agree that we must ask and we have choices. If we don’t do it, no one will. And if we are able to shop at the farmer’s market or join a CSA, we have a direct connection with the farmer. What could be better than that, really knowing where your food comes from?

    What we put in our mouths is often one of the few things that we can control. Thanks for your good work.

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