Sunday, November 16, 2008

Food Saves Town

This article about a small town cooperating to revive itself around food production actually appeared in early October in the New York Times, but I kept a copy of it around. It appealed to my community development side along with my hungry gardener side. It just feels so darn hopeful and sounds like so much fun, that it provides (my new favorite phrase) literal and figurative food for thought.

These days we are all thinking probably a bit more about where and how we spend our hard-earned money, about a lack of jobs, about our homes, our neighbors, and our towns. Stories like this one coming out of Hardwick, Vermont further encourage me to give my money to my neighbors for their vegetables, meat, cheese, and eggs. It encourages me to eat not at that chain restaurant, but at a locally owned place that might be a little more expensive. My dollars go further in my local economy than if I give them up to a big chain to save a bit. That seems worth it when I can look my neighbor in the eye to thank her for the eggs and know my money keeps that land as open space.

And we're not alone in this strategy. Friends, neighbors, and total strangers are out shopping with the same objective of buying local whenever they can. I won't (and can't) say that the Wal-Marts, Kroger's, and Pamida's of our area are short on business, but I can't deny that we nearly thumb wrestle for that last carton of our neighbors eggs. We gladly pay more to know who raised the chickens that laid the eggs, and what those girls ate before and after settling on the nest.

For me it's about knowing where my money is going, helping keep a local farm going or jump-started, and about bringing a sense of community to our table. I don't just mean the community that comes from sharing a meal, but that which comes from knowing that what you are eating comes from someone or somewhere you know. And if I can get all that from a carton of eggs, a bunch of kale, or some ground lamb then it's well worth the money I paid.

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