Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rising food prices mean more reasons to shop locally

We've passed the Ides of March, are sitting pretty on St. Patrick's Day, and spring is only four days away.

Yesterday, I smelled wet dirt. Cheyenne is still in the frozen dirt stage although defrosting rapidly. Those earthy smells make me happy and give me hope for growing season. Surveying my backyard garden, I noticed weeds already greening up. Weeding season!

But I'm still two months away from putting in the plants. I have seeds to sprout and nurture.

MSM carries scary news of rising food prices due to rising fuel prices, wars in the Middle East and tragedy in Japan. Are those food prices ever coming down? Are those fuel prices ever coming down? Not bloody likely.

Could my garden keep my family in food? It could, but I'd have to ratchet up production. I'm a gardener and not a farmer, a guy who chooses to grow enough veggies to supplement my family's diet. It also gives me pleasure. I have the skills to be a full-time gardener. But not the inclination.

Rising food and fuel prices may have an up side. The reason we can buy broccoli at 99 cents per pound at Safeway is that growing and shipping and storing costs are low. That is changing. So the prices you pay for broccoli at your local farmer's market makes sense. And that broccoli is grown by someone in your state or a neighboring state (Colorado, Nebraska) and maybe even by someone you know.

Shop locally. Just keep repeating the mantra -- shoplocallyshoplocallyshoplocally.

How realistic is that in Cheyenne? It isn't, not now, anyway. We have to get our fruits and veggies from far away every winter. But we can get meat locally from Meadow Maid and Pure Wyoming Beef (see my sidebar links for more local producers). There is also a resurgence in small greenhouses and high tunnels to grow food in our cold, windy climate.

I have nothing against Safeway. In fact, the one on South Greeley Highway in Cheyenne has the best produce section of any grocery chain in town. Quite a bit of organic produce, too.

But I'm growing at least some of my own. And trading with my neighbors. And shopping at farmer's markets. And going to the grocery store and buying only what I need.

Shop locally.

And eat your greens on this St. Patrick's Day.

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