Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Locavores – Part deux,

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After only 10 days of our journey into the land of “Locavores” – where one buys only locally grown/raised products – I can offer four observations: the land of “Locavores” is more expensive, more time-consuming, requires more planning and is more interactive.

1.      Shopping locally (instead of in the box-stores) is more expensive. The prices are marginally higher. The local shops may have their devoted clientele but in order to maintain that loyalty (and to entice more customers), the local stores have to remain somewhat competitive – and they do!

2.      Shopping locally takes more time. As my friend Susan commented:  “I think one has to be retired to embark on such a venture, but i do love shopping at our market in Ann Arbor even though it takes a hit on the pocketbook - always the bummer that eating healthy and ecologically is not for those with few resources.” I have found every word of Susan’s observations to be true. I am thankful that I am retired and love that I have the time and opportunity to pursue the locavore life style. There is a time-saving aspect to shopping in big supermarkets. At the box stores, I need only go to the appropriate aisle; I don’t need to stop at the butcher shop, the green grocer or the cheese shop to get what I want to cook that evening. At the box-stores, I can get all of the items on my shopping list at one store – never mind that they may come from Holland or Morocco or Israel… (or, in the case of almonds – generally considered to be a local/Proven├žal cash crop – California!)

3.      I can confirm that shopping locally requires more planning. The local shops follow the French schedule of being open until noon, closed for 2 ½ hours for lunch and then open until 6:00 or 7:00 in the evening. Most of the local shops are also closed on Sunday and Monday, so when planning meals for those days, it is important to do my shopping by Saturday evening. On the other hand, the local shops are only a five-minute walk from our apartment, so they are easy to access – when they are open.

4.      Shopping locally means more interaction with the shop owner/counter person. At the big box-stores, you can find what you want without interacting with anyone. (For those of us with questionable language skills, that is a BIG plus. You don’t have to ask for an item if you can find what you are looking for.) On the other hand, interaction is a good thing. The shop owners begin to recognize you and that often leads to a conversation. Speaking with the shop owners improves one’s vocabulary and speaking skills (and you will have learned new words as you look up the words for the items that you want to buy before you go to the store).

We like the vegetables and meats that the local stores offer, like knowing that we are contributing to the local economy and are probably benefiting from eating foods that are grown/raised with fewer pesticides or insecticides (?).

Isn’t that a “win-win”?