Thursday, January 07, 2010

Sea-bred vs. grass-fed oysters -- a Wyoming locavore's dilemma

I posted on Dec. 5 about my trip to the Cheyenne Winter Farmers' Market. I said that I did all my Christmas shopping there, although I was joshing just a bit. I bought my wife Chris a homegrown and homemade gift from Sage Hill Fiber Arts in Chugwater and it has come in very handy since she unwrapped it on Christmas Day.

I shopped online for most of my other gifts. I did not shop at Wal-Mart, probably for the first time. I do not hate Wal-Mart for its success, as it brings more variety and lower prices to Cheyenne. However, I am trying to live my life as if Wal-Mart didn't exist. Not sure what to call this pursuit. It's not just about food but all goods. I want to buy locally and eat locally and politic locally and write locally and sell my books locally. That "local" may end of being a 100-mile radius from Cheyenne. It may be a wider circle. But my circle now is big as the entire planet.

During December, I bought a bag of frozen shrimp from Thailand. Defrosted Thai shrimp is also what they sell at the Albertson's Deli. Thai shrimp is nowhere near as tasty as Florida shrimp scooped out of the Gulf Stream and sold at Ponce Inlet or St. Augustine. But Thai shrimp is a quite a bit better than Wyoming shrimp which, when available, is in the form of fossilized rock from the ancient inland seas. Very crunchy.

We do have oysters in Wyoming, but I prefer my oysters sea-bred rather than grass-fed, if you get my drift.

My goal is to bore you endlessly with this topic in 2010. Be forewarned. Economics will enter into it. I know very little about Big Picture economics, so I'll call on experts for that. Small Picture economics focuses on my wallet. How can the average citizen afford to eat and shop locally? That is a huge question. Writers on the Range columnist Charles Finn from Bend, Oregon, tackled the topic in a December essay that appeared Dec. 27 on the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle op-ed pages. He was writing mainly about buying organic foods, but his conclusions hit home:

But once again it comes down to the bottom line. Sure, I value the homemade over the factory produced, the local over the imported. But I also value paying my mortgage and electricity bill.

And why does it always come down to this? Doing what it ethically right and better in terms of health compete against doing what I can afford. It makes me want to scream.

Argh!! I know what he means.

This is one reason among others than I support farmers' markets. So, when I received this e-mail from Cindy Ridenour, chair of the Cheyenne Winter Farmers' Market, I decided to pass it along. It's about the physical market but includes a survey about a proposed on-line version.

Dear ________:

Thank you for making the Cheyenne Winter Farmers' Market a great success with the community. The board is meeting next week to consider plans for next year.

Meanwhile, Wyoming consumers and producers may soon be able to participate in an on-line farmers market. The Wyoming Business Council is conducting a survey of consumers to determine your interest in an on-line market.

Please take a moment to take the attached survey (attached as a Word document). You may either highlight the answers and email it back to Kim Porter at or call 307-777-6319 or mail it back to Kim at Wyoming Business Council, Attn: Kim Porter, 214 W. 15th Street, Cheyenne, WY 82002.

Please reply to with your survey response. (I will forward your reply to her, if it comes to me).

Have a great winter, and we'll be in touch!
Cindy Ridenour
Chair, Cheyenne Winter Farmers' Market

By the way, this is also a huge social and political issue, one that challenges know-it-all city dwellers like me to find out more about agriculture and to listen to what farmers and ranchers are saying and doing -- and learn from it.

No comments: