Savoring Local Flavors: Eat Local, America

This summer marks the third year of Eat Local, America!, an initiative that took root when staff and customers throughout the national food co-op network began talking about the many ways we connect with and support local growers. At Bloomingfoods, the phrase “locally grown” has been in our mission statement since 1976, when the co-op began. Efforts to reshape the food system in healthier, more sustainable ways have always begun close to home. We use the Eat Local, America! initiative to celebrate the growing passion for foods grown or produced locally, with thanks to the farmers, chefs, food artisans and discerning consumers who are making a healthier local food system possible.

You will find information and "Local" signs in our stores, and you can also log onto EatLocalAmerica.coop for recipes and blog entries that show you how the dots are meeting up all across the country, one Eat Local, America! community at a time. The Eat Local, America! initiative also includes a challenge component. At EatLocalAmerica.coop you can tell us how you plan to celebrate local foods this season: 1) make four out of five meals with local foods; 2) make five meals a week with local foods; or 3) set your own local food goal. The aim is to become more familiar with what’s closest to home.

In a world where we’ve grown accustomed to shipping food over transnational trade routes of thousands of miles, eating local can at first seem like a complicated thing. Eating local means stepping back from thinking all foods are equal at all times of the year. There are times when you may make the decision to forgo the papaya in order to go with peaches instead. When those peaches are in season, or when you are learning the craft of “putting them up” so you can enjoy canned or frozen peaches in the winter, the locavore rewards are extremely appealing. Eating local becomes a most desirable priority: it’s not about being deprived of specialty foods (or coffee, or pepper), but about paying attention to what we have near.

We are motivated in part by phony or misleading claims made by some conventional grocery chains, as well as by a need to define high quality local food. Yes, you can sometimes find a cardboard carton of “locally grown something” at a big box store – but to source and support sustainable local foods every day requires rethinking many of your systems, assumptions, and ways you engage with suppliers. This is true whether you work as a buyer in a grocery store or are an individual committed to buying a CSA share and getting your groceries from co-ops and farmers’ markets.

"It is through grass roots pressure on a weekly basis that there is anything truly edible in this country." From the independent film, Ingredients