Produce, fruit and vegetables. When they arrive ready-to-eat on your table, do you ever wonder exactly where it came from? We’re usually going to reply with some kind of conditioned response like Texas, California, Florida, Georgia etc. This is true in part because back in the day, we bought produce from the local grocery store, and these are the places the produce guys would tell us their inventories came from. We believed them of course because “back in the day” it was probably true. There was a level of comfort knowing that the US Food and Drug Administration was looking out for our best interest, they had an eye on infections, diseases, product recalls, e-coli, tainted melons, vegetable sprayed with caustic chemicals, DDT, pesticides- well you get the idea. We all shared in this false sense of security that at least if the produce was grown locally in the United States, it was therefore subject to the oversight and scrutiny of safety, food and health inspectors. Well that was then.
Now when we buy commodities like this from our local grocery store, we really don’t know where it’s grown and it certainly isn’t going to be advertised and promoted as “safe” under the watchful eyes of government agencies like the FDA, public health inspectors, watchdog groups and overall federal and state oversight. It might surprise you that these “locally offered products” are being grown in countries throughout South America, Mexico, Panama, Europe, the pacific rim and the Caribbean islands. So what’s wrong with that? We are a global economy; fair trade with other countries is not only economically viable but encouraged. Every country and its people have a right to a revenue stream derived from products that are plentiful to them and easy to export. Classic supply and demand, capitalism, greed- whatever you want to call it How To Lock A Door Without A Lock. The problem is now you’ve opened yourself to a whole new requisite for quality, health standards, safe food handling practices and quality requirement- or lack thereof. Unfortunately, most other countries do share the same passion for safety, health and human services and safe guidelines like we have taken for granted here in the United States. So not only are we paying a premium for commodities shipped to us from all over the globe, it may not be safe and open you and your family up to major health risks.
There is an alternative to this and thankfully it has picked up momentum over the last several years called “Locally Grown” It used to be a convention that hippies and commune dwellers lived by. Trust only what you (or your community you are a part of) grow and care for. This way you’re assured the products are safe, fresh and the income generated by their sales stays within your community. Brilliant. Not only are you eating with your neighbors and helping your community, you’re not paying for the diesel fuel and transportation costs getting it here, but you’re living within your 6 degrees. You can either go hardcore and grow your own, or you can invest in a popular hybrid of sorts, and buy from your local farmers market. If you are an urban dweller and garden space, or just green space for that matter, come at a premium, you have options. There are many e-commerce companies in the gardening niche that sell and service urban grow systems- basically self-contained gardens in big Tupperware containers that grow with the aid of hydroponics and extensive liquid fertilizers- no dirt required actually. These hydroponic grow kits are both fun to tend to and inexpensive. Many items thrive and are easy to grow in this way right on your back patio. Tomatoes, lettuce, beets, legumes, beans, herbs, and carrots just to name a few, as well as any kind of melon you can imagine. For more resources on the topic, Google green products and/or green products websites to get more information on urban grows and hydroponics.
It’s a simple concept that is catching steam in growing cities and major metropolitan areas and has been a main stay in small rural towns for centuries. Community grows and massive urban gardens, even converting old decaying neighborhoods into safe food sources and gardens to feed the very people that live there. Wow, what a concept.