Supporting Local Farmers
By Scott Wolf
Welcome to Eco-Logical, a column created to look at how we might live “greener,” more satisfying lives and walk a little more lightly on the planet in the process. This is not a “gloom-and-doom” column about how bad things are and how much worse they’re going to get. Having said that, let’s get it out in the open: Global warming is happening. It’s happening because of what we humans do in the course of our day-to-day living. An excess of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide and methane, trap heat in our atmosphere, with potentially catastrophic effects for us and our fellow inhabitants of Earth. In this column, we will talk about measures both big and small that we can tackle to turn the tide. This will be positive and focused on what we, as individuals and as a community, can do to make a difference.
Let’s start small and easy; let’s get local! With food, for starters. Produce in most supermarkets typically travels 1,500 miles before making it into your grocery cart. That’s 1,500 miles of fossil fuels burned for transport and refrigeration, 1,500 miles of freshness you’re not getting, 1,500 miles of nutrients lost, and 1,500 miles away that your dollars go. Plus, you may get some things you didn’t count on, such as preservatives, colorings, increased levels of pesticides, fungicides, other chemicals, and so on.
“Well, what am I supposed to do? Go without my veggies?” you ask. Absolutely not! A good first step would be to learn about the farms and farmers’ markets in your area. Great resources for this are www.localharvest.org and www.cafarmersmarkets.org. You will learn that Saturday is a very popular day for farmers’ markets! Chico has a farmers’ market 7:30am-1pm at Second and Wall streets year-round. Grass Valley has one 8am-12pm at the fairgrounds, gate 4, from May to October. Oroville has a farmers’ market 7:30am-12pm at Montgomery and Meyers streets from May to September. Just about every locale has at least one farmers’ market.
Making the local farmers’ market a regular part of your life is among the simplest and most enjoyable changes one can make to go green. Waking at a leisurely hour on Saturday and perusing the freshest fruits and greens while munching on homemade goodies and interacting with friends and farmers who love what they do—it rapidly becomes a deliciously addictive ritual. You’ll feel good about eating better, and you can also feel good knowing that you’ve just reduced your contribution to global warming through fewer “food miles” traveled, less packaging involved, and fewer chemicals used. If that isn’t enough, you can appreciate how the farmers get to keep 80-90 cents of every dollar, as opposed to about 5 cents of every dollar for farmers with a supermarket between you and them. And you usually benefit from lower prices without a middleman!
If you’d like to explore local food and relationships with farmers a little more deeply, consider starting or joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture group). Here’s how it works: A group of food buyers invests in a farm (or farms) by buying “shares” of the harvest, usually on a quarterly or annual basis. Each household receives a box of produce every week. If the farm has a great year, the buyers share in the abundance. When it’s a rough year, the farmer has the support to stay in business. As a result of this stability, farmers can plant new and different crops that might otherwise be difficult to sell on the open market, adding to the enjoyment of the buyers. Grass Valley is home to a CSA called The Vegetable Club with Dan and Jennifer Crebbin as contacts; you can reach them at 21708 Dogbar Rd.,95949, 530-346-6562.
In Chico, contact Lee Callender with GRUB (Growing Resourcefully, Uniting Bellies) at 530-680-4543 or email@example.com. Or start your own!
“Think Globally, Eat Locally.”
Scott Wolf is an EcoBroker Certified® Realtor in the Chico/Paradise area and a member of the Chico Sustainability Task Force. You may reach him at (530) 592-5357 or at Scott@ScottWolfHomes.com.