It's great to see an increase in involvement in this blog from various Challengers, especially (as Liz points out) because it brings different perspectives & approaches into the conversation. I'm also grateful that the exchange has, so far, been respectful & honest.
In particular, well put, e__ly. I'm referring to your post immediately before this one, in which you succinctly outline many of the challenges, perceived & real, posed when considering a more locally-based diet. Indeed, it can be argued that those of us posting here are to some degree living in a bubble. It's also unlikely that our efforts this summer will sway anyone towards local food sourcing who wasn't already considering it.
With this in mind, I'd like to direct everyone's attention to this NYT article from earlier this morning. I would be very interested to hear other Challenge participant's opinions on the issues it raises, especially in regards to how we, as natural food store employees, fit into the picture. &, for that matter, how said "picture" is being framed by national media such as the NYT.
I can really only speak to the "elitism" problem from my own experience. Although I've long had an interest in quality food, if you had suggested just a few years ago that I would be working at a co-op (& enjoying it), I would have either laughed at you, or taken offense. See, I looked at people who did all their shopping (or working) at natural food stores as being pretty silly. Sure, I understood their reasoning, & I often picked up the odd item at my local co-op, myself. But shopping there exclusively, let alone only for local foods? Preposterous! I considered myself to be a pragmatist about this. Yeah, you could find some good things at the co-op, but anyone who shopped there for the bulk of their food simply had more money than common sense. I certainly didn't think that I, as a service-industry wage-slave, could have ever afforded to do so.
I press the fast-forward button & find myself working, completely by chance, at the Market (a newcomer to the Cities, it happened to be the first place that I applied to & the first to offer me a job). I find that I really care about the products I'm selling & that many of the customers do, as well. Further, I find that someone making at least a "living wage" can indeed afford to shop there almost exclusively (but that, yes, it would be daunting to attempt it at, say "minimum wage"). The fact is, none of us is independently wealthy. We make a "fair" but very modest living, & our wiggle-room is as tight as most other Americans. We all have differing amounts of time to devote to this project & differing outside expenses. In my particular case, I do have a fair amount of time to spend playing around in my kitchen, but the fact is that I would make that time a priority, regardless. & yes, e__ly, I did literally tear up a bit over my pork. I'm a big geek.
I hope we can keep digging into these issues surrounding the local/sustainable food question. It's great to put up handsome pictures of the food we've cooked or grown, but these sorts of discussions are the real "meat & potatoes", if you will (or "TVP & potatoes", if you won't).