Going Local, Expanding the Cheap-Energy Mind


Every year, around this time, I get excited to head over to our local farm to start participating in our CSA (community supported agriculture.)

This year I am going to try my hand at a bit of horticulture at home, but we are still keeping our CSA membership as well. Being part of a community-minded organization such as a CSA is a great way to avoid the florescent lights and frigidly air-conditioned stores and get out and meet people! There are many food options, usually within ten or twenty miles of home. Here are a few resources that can help you to find locally produced items.

Local Harvest: I love this site. You can find vegan restaurants, soaps, herbs, organic barbecue joints, or where to find local honey (great for allergy sufferers!)

Locavores: The home website of those who coined the term ‘locavores.’ Jessica Prentice, a chef from the Bay area, began using the term in 2005, defining it as eating food harvested within a 100 mile radius. The links page has a lot of useful connections.

The Eat Well Guide is another great site. There is a local food finder on the main page that lets you enter your zip code to find farms, co-ops, restaurants and more. This site has guides that show where you can find hormone-free dairy, water-conscious establishments, and also has a database that lets you know what is in season in your region.

The Sustainable Table is a fantastic resource for educational information regarding all things sustainable. These are the folks who brought us The Meatrix.

If you don’t want to buy it, do one better – grow it! Michael Pollan’s recent piece on climate change and self-sufficiency in the NYT Magazine Section was so inspiring. I love his description of the cheap-energy mind and our disconnect from the simplicity of nurturing ourselves.

The idea is to find one thing to do in your life that doesn’t involve spending or voting, that may or may not virally rock the world but is real and particular (as well as symbolic) and that, come what may, will offer its own rewards. Maybe you decide to give up meat, an act that would reduce your carbon footprint by as much as a quarter. Or you could try this: determine to observe the Sabbath. For one day a week, abstain completely from economic activity: no shopping, no driving, no electronics.

But the act I want to talk about is growing some — even just a little — of your own food. Rip out your lawn, if you have one, and if you don’t — if you live in a high-rise, or have a yard shrouded in shade — look into getting a plot in a community garden. Measured against the Problem We Face, planting a garden sounds pretty benign, I know, but in fact it’s one of the most powerful things an individual can do — to reduce your carbon footprint, sure, but more important, to reduce your sense of dependence and dividedness: to change the cheap-energy mind.