Have you hugged a tree today?
So here in the Land of Bean, we have been experimenting with some twists on living green. Switched over to compact fluorescents. Installed a new insulated garage door. We’ve been recycling and composting for awhile, but I’ll admit that more out of necessity than a desire to be kind to the planet: here in the rural outskirts of North Coast Metroland, we pay by the can for garbage removal, and they don’t take yard waste.
But Mr. Bean, the Bug and I have been experimenting with eating within 100 miles of our home. I am finding this to be a bigger challenge than expected, not so much because we are lacking in locally-grown and produced food choices, but because it’s darned difficult sometimes to figure out where our food is actually produced!!
We’re lucky in some ways: The West Side Market has a fabulous selection of locally grown and produced meats and meat products, and if you are willing to regularly show up before 7:30 on Saturday mornings, unshowered (I find the unshowered part is essential; they won't talk to you if you've taken time to apply cosmetics), you can eventually build enough “cred” with the vendors that they will give you their “real” addresses and phone numbers so you can get really really fresh beef and chicken and lamb and other lovely delicacies. You can get locally baked breads and cakes, locally-made cheese and wine, and locally roasted coffee. (Before you say something, I know that they don’t grow coffee within 100 miles of my house. Look; I at least try to stick to shade grown and fair trade. I’m not giving up coffee. End of discussion.)
Produce is another matter. I like fresh vegetables. A lot. There is quite a bit I can grow under cold frame for much of the winter, but clearly not enough to keep us happy and healthy. So I try to compromise. I look for produce that is at least grown in the US or southern Canada (I’m amazed at the quality of the hothouse cucumbers and tomatoes that are coming out of Ontario). But it’s really tough to tell sometimes. Witness the following exchange I had on Saturday at the Market:
Me: Are these grapes from California?
Me: OK; I’ll take that bunch there.
As he’s packing up the grapes, I notice the empty crates behind him that say “Product of Chile” on them.
Me: I thought you said these were California grapes?
Me: But the box behind you says “Chile” on it.
Me: So they’re not from California.
Me: You don’t speak English, do you?
Vendor: Two Dollah
I think grapes will have to come off the list until the local vineyards ripen in August…