Friday, July 16, 2010
It wasn't that long ago that I finally started feeling a bit settled about my "buy local" routine. I had figured out what day I needed to go out to the farm store in order to get milk before the gallons of organic whole milk sold out. And I'd found a substitute free-range organic relatively-local egg source after becoming concerned about the cause of the brittle egg shells on the local eggs at the farm store. But recently, I experienced a bit of a setback.
The farm store changed milk suppliers. Previously, we were able to buy gallons of organic whole milk. It came in standard plastic gallon jugs from a creamery a bit north of here in Pennsylvania. I'm not a fan of plastic; but storing multiple glass half gallon jugs in our refrigerator is just not practical. It's also more expensive.
When the farm store switched milk suppliers, they changed to a more local creamery. This outfit has various fancy certifications and shaves a few food miles off the end product. But, for my family, there are a couple problems with this change. The first problem is that milk is now only available in glass half gallons. Also, the price to buy a gallon of milk is now roughly $7.50, compared to the $5.95 for the plastic jug we were previously buying. But there's still another problem. We think the new milk tastes gross. I've never really imagined myself to be a milk connoisseur, but let me tell you, these milks are two completely different beasts.
Now, we had discovered a while ago that the natural food store carries the same brand of milk we had been purchasing from the farm store (which is closer to us). But, the natural food store carries an even smaller quantity of milk than the farm store, and the delivery day is a problem. You see, the natural food store is where I found the eggs I've been buying. But, the delivery day is different for the eggs and the milk, and if you don't get out there on delivery day you don't get what you are after. Plus, the natural food store is farther away. Multiple trips out there each week would burn up a lot of gas.
Honestly, the logistics of buying healthy local food is sometimes daunting. I understand why so many people don't make a serious effort to buy local. It is far more convenient to go to the grocery store and get everything at once, regardless of how it was produced. It's cheaper too. In the short run. But once your eyes are opened to the long-term costs to your health and environment, it's hard to go back to buying standard grocery store fare. Plus, I've become spoiled by the rich tastes of food raised right. I recently purchased grocery store brand organic, "cage-free" eggs in a pinch. They were pale and tasteless and so disappointing.
So far, the "solutions" I've come up with have been less than optimal. I know I'm not the only farm store customer who us unhappy with the change. The farm store is pushing hard to sell the new brand, but I'm hoping that they'll switch back to the previous brand. Until then, my choices seem to be either eggs or milk, or to buy non-local organic milk or eggs at the grocery store.
Sometimes buying local is a balancing act.Maybe it always is. In a strange way, I've come to appreciate the challenge. When I have to work a little more for the food I want to feed my family, I appreciate it a little more. The extra effort makes me think consciously about the food choices I make and is a reminder of why it is important to make these choices. Sure, I'd be quite happy for the process to be easier. But in the mean time, I try to embrace the bumps in the road as opportunities not to be missed. I've come a long way since February!
This post is a participant in Fight Back Friday, generously hosted by Food Renegade.
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