When I found out about the Eat Local Challenge, & my chance to participate in an online fashion, I was very excited. As I have become more immersed in the world of local, small scale food, I've developed a nasty habit of arguing with people in online forums regarding the concept.
Unfortunately, I really had very little idea what I was talking about.
While a lack of concrete knowledge isn't really an impediment to "successful" intraweb debate, my gaps in understanding (not to mention experience) made me feel like something of a fraud. So, I couldn't wait to get down to the actual challenge & start learning more about my local sources of food. Except, I didn't get down to the actual challenge right away, & now I'm behind.
Be that as it may...
One question I wanted to answer to my own satisfaction was, is eating local really affordable? I've certainly had no qualms about saying it is, & assuming one lives in an area with a farmers market & one or two natural food stores, it certainly should be. But what if one doesn't have a reliable source of transportation to get to the food (like me)? How much extra time & money would that mean expending just on acquiring the food? I can't just zip down down to the farmers market or out to the farm after work, nor can I stock up on large amounts of bulk staples at once. Further, how much do I rely on my employee discount when shopping at work? Not that I'll be forgoing it, but I'll be keeping an eye on the savings I get & comparing them to what a co-op member or non-member might expect. &, of course, I'm just a single guy, living on a modest income, so I can't determine how feasible such a diet would be for a full-sized family. Hopefully, some of the family-having posters can speak to that.
I personally feel that answering this question is key to the successful promotion of even a moderately local diet, as so many people begin to feel the squeeze from all sides. Whether paying real costs at the gas pump, or real costs for our food, people are feeling torn between making ends meet & "doing the right thing" in ways we haven't been forced to examine before. It will be all too tempting for many who supported local foods when living was cheaper to abandon them for lower prices & convenience.
Anyway, please bear with me as I get up to speed. As I get my bearings in the world of all-local, all-the-time, I'll probably be operating on some sort of hybrid plan. My natural inclination is to get all hard-core about something & then get frustrated, so I'm hoping a more measured approach will work better. &, unless the infrastructure completely collapses, most people who adopt a local-friendly mindset will likely do so for some items & not for others, anyway. Let's be realistic (I'm already in a panic about how to phase out my beloved conventional-corn-syrup-loaded energy drinks). Well, off to research my options...