another reason to buy local

Brent Finnegan -- June 13th, 2008

We’ve written about the farmers’ market(s) and low mileage food here before, but with all the national media coverage over the attack of the killer tomatoes, there’s yet another reason to buy locally grown food.

The NV Daily reports that Virginia ranks 4th in nation for production of fresh-market tomatoes.

Cherry and grape tomatoes, tomatoes sold with the vine still attached, tomatoes grown at home and raw red plum, raw red Roma and raw red round tomatoes grown and harvested in various states — including Virginia, as of Wednesday afternoon — are OK for consumption, according to the FDA.

“You can still get your tomato fix,” Peregoy said.

That wasn’t the case Tuesday at the Main Street Mill Restaurant in Front Royal, owner Alice Barnhart said. The restaurant, which offers many salads and sandwiches, didn’t serve any tomatoes that day because its supply had come from Florida…

The Downtown Farmers’ Market is open every Tuesday and Saturday in the municipal parking off Liberty Street from 7am-1pm. You should be able to buy fresh tomatoes (or, barring that, a tomato plant) there.

50 Responses to “another reason to buy local”

  1. Deb SF says:

    I recently read a contrary opinion that made me pause from:

    http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/09/do-we-really-need-a-few-billion-locavores/

    a snip: But growing your own food has to be good for the environment, right? Well, keeping in mind the transportation inefficiencies mentioned above, consider the “food miles” argument and a recent article in Environmental Science and Technology by Christopher L. Weber and H. Scott Matthews of Carnegie-Mellon:

    We find that although food is transported long distances in general (1640 km delivery and 6760 km life-cycle supply chain on average) the GHG emissions associated with food are dominated by the production phase, contributing 83% of the average U.S. household’s 8.1 t CO2e/yr footprint for food consumption. Transportation as a whole represents only 11% of life-cycle GHG emissions, and final delivery from producer to retail contributes only 4%. Different food groups exhibit a large range in GHG-intensity; on average, red meat is around 150% more GHG-intensive than chicken or fish. Thus, we suggest that dietary shift can be a more effective means of lowering an average household’s food-related climate footprint than “buying local.” Shifting less than one day per week’s worth of calories from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs, or a vegetable-based diet achieves more GHG reduction than buying all locally sourced food.

    For a better overall summary, see

    http://pubs.acs.org/subscribe/journals/esthag-w/2008/apr/science/ee_foodmiles.html

  2. Jeremy Aldrich says:

    Can’t both be true?

    I guess I shouldn’t buckle my seatbelt, since I can improve safety even more by lowering my speed while driving.

  3. Emmy says:

    I think both can be true. I bought two tomatoes from the market on Saturday and I’m sure the cost to get those there far outweighs the cost to get them in the store and they are safer. Not to mention that either way, I’d just rather support the local farmer.

  4. Justin says:

    I think it’s okay as long as your not driving to a market JUST to get two tomatoes and the going to Food Lion to get everything else. I’d rather do without tomatoes than driving the extra 2-4 miles and taking another 20 minutes.

    Actually, I’d rather plant my own. Hmm…maybe I’ll pick up some tomato plants.

    The best solution to the problem is for the food chains to buy as much locally as they can, at the discretion of the store manager. But we all know that will never happen.

  5. Erndog says:

    I’m no economic wizard (a la former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry), but I can see how spending dollars on products produced and sold locally would be better off for our local economy rather than sending dollars to the Wal-Mart Walton family in Arkansas or to China. Isn’t that a pretty good reason enough? You put it all together with the environmental impetus and it’s a win-win for buying local. Besides, who feels like standing around chatting in Wal-Mart while overly bombarded with stimuli, when you can catch up with friends in a more relaxed atmosphere at the Harrisonburg Farmers Market?

    I watched Brigadoon (circa 1950’s?) the other day. Wouldn’t you know it that the centerpiece of that utopian Scottish land was the central farmers market. I’ve heard rumors that D. Miller every now and then breaks into a Gene Kelly dance number down at the market. Who needs Brigadoon!? “Go home… go home.. go home to Bonnie Jean!”

  6. Erndog says:

    Come to think of it, is anybody also calculating the environmental cost of shipping dollars to Arkansas or China. Gotta think of everything. ;-)

  7. Christa says:

    I’m not knocking Wal Mart (not too hard anyway), but the vision of the Walton family(originally and probably still) was to underprice all the small businesses in a town and put them out of business, then raise their prices. I lived in Arkansas and this was common knowledge. I am certainly all for supporting local businesses….even if it costs me a lot more.

  8. David Miller says:

    Justin

    “at the discretion of the store manager. But we all know that will never happen.” Try Kroger, they do a great job of trying to buy regionally.

  9. David Troyer says:

    deb,

    I find that the tone of the article reflects much of the “must find a single answer” sentiment that often comes up in carbon emission discussions. I think we can all agree by this point that there is (currently) no single technology (in the broad sense of the term) that will achieve any substantial goal of reducing carbon emissions.

    I’m also scratching my head to the fact that the study was done for food produced in the US only. It makes me very curious how much of our produce (especially in the winter) is from the US or the Northern Hemisphere.

    While I found the article a tad misleading, I did enjoy it and how it certainly reinforces the fact that the food miles equation is not as straightforward as it sometimes seems:

    Replacing red meat and dairy with chicken, fish, or eggs for one day per week reduces emissions equal to 760 miles per year of driving. And switching to vegetables one day per week cuts the equivalent of driving 1160 miles per year.

  10. Brian M says:

    Christa, are you saying that when Sam Walton started Wal-Mart, one of his major goals was to destroy other businesses? and THEN jack up his prices? Do you seriously believe this?

    Now I don’t like Wal-Mart anymore than the next guy. I paid my dues to the Walton gods and worked there over a decade ago giving them 6+ hellish months of employment before digging a tunnel to escape… however, I highly doubt that Sam Walton sat down in his easy chair and said “I know! I’ll start a business, screw over all of my neighboring business owners, and then I’ll screw over the rest of my neighbors by jacking up the prices! I’m a genius! What a great business model!”

    I won’t argue that they may now operate their company with that goal, but maybe his goal was just to undercut the other businesses and make money. Seems like a typical American dream-story to me.

  11. Christa says:

    Brian, I am telling you what I heard from the people of Arkansas. Maybe it wasn’t his original intent, but I’m sure it would make him happy to do so.

  12. Seth says:

    christa,
    have you seen ‘so i married an axe murderer?’ it does a great job of explaining the nefarious designs of one colonel sanders and his plans to addict the world to his chicken and achieve global hegemony through the triumvirate. sounds like it might be right up your alley.

    and, boosh blew up the wtc (everyone in massachusetts says that (actually just a couple of crazies i used to see in a park, but i’m willing to take some liberties and consider them a statistically relevant sample). not sure if they’re more or less credible than the good people of arkansas)

  13. seth says:

    just checked snopes. make that triumvirate a pentavirate.

  14. Bryan says:

    wal-mart is a patriot. farmer’s markets are for communists.

  15. Josh says:

    It wasn’t too long ago that Wal-mart was all about “Made in the USA.”

  16. Seth says:

    getting everything from china was probably part of the master plan all along

  17. Emmy says:

    Not agreeing with Christa is fine, but do you have to act like middle school children?

  18. Seth says:

    emmy, i agree that even middle school children would realize that asserting that “the vision of the Walton family(originally and probably still) was to underprice all the small businesses in a town and put them out of business, then raise their prices” and backing it up with a vague reference to the supposed collective wisdom of arkansians is ridiculous. thanks for your input!

  19. Emmy says:

    And thank you for proving my point.

  20. seth says:

    :)
    i think we might all do well not to take ourselves (and each other) quite so seriously.

    (you’re welcome)

  21. Christa says:

    I happen to take business very seriously, Seth. How old are you…just curious. :)

  22. Jeremy Aldrich says:

    We don’t feed the monster by shopping at Wal-Mart. Whatever Walton’s original vision was, the effects are clear: lower wages and benefits for workers, less commercial diversity as smaller stores close, more imports, and control of the manufacturing industry with an iron hand, further depressing wages across the board (ironically, when people make less money they feel that shopping at Wal-Mart is their only option!). Bad capitalism, in other words, which confuses cutting out inefficiencies with cutting out sustainability.

    A few quotes from Sam Walton that I think are a propos:
    “Each Wal-Mart store should reflect the values of its customers and support the vision they hold for their community. ”

    “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else. ”

    If you’re confused why people would oppose Wal-Mart’s practices, check out one of the several great documentaries on the topic, like Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price or Is Wal-Mart Good for America?.

  23. Christa says:

    Great websites Jeremy!!

  24. Emmy says:

    I had almost completely stopped shopping at Wal-Mart after breaking a long addiction with the place. However, because of gas prices I find myself going to the closest place to somewhere else I might need to go and the other day it happened to be Wal-Mart. I had a list all made up for Martin’s but as I pushed through a few aisles I couldn’t help but buy some of the things from that list at Wal-Mart. I don’t like to feed the beast, but I have to feed my family right now and they still do have the best prices on a lot of things. I don’t buy anything I can get locally from there, but I do have to pay attention to where its all going. I don’t like it, but there’s a lot right now I don’t like.

  25. Christa says:

    One thing I do is buy a half a beef a year. I have done it for about 30 years. I may have a huge check to write for it, but where can you buy beef for $1.25 per lb? That’s for steaks, roasts and hamburger. What does hamburger cost now…like 2.50 per lb? I wrote a check to the farmer for $560.00 and my freezer is full for a year and a half. When I go to the store, I buy chicken and fish when on sale and hit the farmer’s market or local produce stands for the rest. Food Lion is as cheap as Wal mart, Emmy, and it’s at your back door. Like I said before, I’ll pay more for it before I support WM. I’m just that stubborn.

  26. Thanh says:

    Like Christa, I also buy beef about once a year. However, there’s only two of us and because we don’t eat very much meat, we get by with going in on 1/4 cow with 4 other families/individuals. Its definately a LOT cheaper than buying in smaller quantities from the supermarket or even a local farmers market or producer. We also only have the freezer above our refridgerator so 1/16 of a cow is all we can fit in at a time (with our other foods). Take a look at the Local Foods Directory (hburgnews post 6/16/2008) and find a place where you can place a large order (I know of a few other places that sell local beef that aren’t listed there too, so I would encourage you all to ask around to friends and co-workers if they have other sources/suggestions). :)

  27. Emmy says:

    I shop at Food Lion a lot, but for the things I buy, its about a dollar more expensive there than anywhere else, including Martin’s. I still go there a lot because I can walk, but I bought hamburger there once with bugs in it, so I’m pretty careful what I buy there now. Like I said, the Wal-Mart thing is rare, but I was on that side of town and needed some non-food items and wound up buying a good many groceries there.

    We’ve talked at work about buying a cow and dividing it up between a few of us and some of the others may do that soon. I have no way to freeze enough to make it worth my while, and I’ve almost eliminated meat from my diet now anyway so its not worth it, but I think that really is the best way to go if you are a meat eater.

    I bought a canner and plan to help my ex and his wife with their garden in exchange for foods to can. Between the farmers market and their garden I should be pretty well set. I think it is always a good idea to put the word out there if you are looking for produce. Most people who have gardens of any size at home end up with way too much and a lot goes to rot. My ex is still eating potatoes from last year and new ones are in the ground. Most people will happily pass it on to keep from wasting it.

  28. Christa says:

    Hey Emmy, I’ll trade beef for veggies!
    And Thanh, you can buy a small freezer at Lowes for under $150.00. Something to think about. I bought my youngest son one.

  29. seth says:

    christa,
    too young for you but your interest is flattering.
    :)

  30. Christa says:

    Funny Seth. I think you know why I was asking. :)

  31. Brian M says:

    Seth and Christa, budding love is beautiful this time of year. =o)

  32. Christa says:

    LOL, I was asking his age to get a feel why he had the opinions he did. The comments he made sounded like some of the things my sons might say.

  33. Seth says:

    christa,
    i’m sure i hate certain things about walmart as much if not more than you do (i’ve also seen some of the really positive things they do in this community). i felt it was probably a good idea to illustrate the absurdity of your previous comment though so that folks don’t assume that people who have well conceived notions of why they disagree with some of walmart’s business practices are on the same page as those who, out of warped principle, categorically dislike them and are therefore inclined to believe whatever conspiracy theories or other trash gets thrown around (in addition, i thought it would be amusing). if that makes me adolescent, so be it (though i think it likely depends on your perspective).

    is that son of your’s single?
    :)

  34. Christa says:

    Um, yes, both of them are, thankfully. And thankfully again, they like women Seth. Alot.

  35. Seth says:

    yeah, i do too. but your homophobia is telling. you must be from an older generation…
    :)

  36. Christa says:

    I don’t hate homosexuals at all Seth. I have dear friends who are gay. Trust me when I say that I have had WAY too much drama with my boys in my lifetime, that throwing homosexuality in the mix is one drama I am glad I don’t have to deal with.
    But that’s another subject. We are way off base here. Sorry, Brent.

  37. Seth says:

    i didn’t say you hated anyone.

    homophobia: unreasoning fear of or antipathy toward homosexuals and homosexuality

    so being thankful that your sons aren’t gay probably qualifies as one of the low octane varieties.

    yeah, way off base. i’m not sorry though. this is fun.

  38. Christa says:

    “The irrational fear and hatred of homosexuals and homosexual behavior.”
    I looked it up.
    I have a few other things to say, but I will refrain. If you want to hash this out more, email me. I’m happy to debate.

  39. Brian M says:

    Hey Christa! I expect to see you climbing aboard the bus to travel to DC for Gay Pride Weekend in June 2009. Please be sure to wear you rainbow suspenders. =o)

    I’m just messing with you. And I agree that it definitely would add more drama to your boys’ lives. They’d have to put up with all kinds of hate in this area. They’d probably feel like they had to move away. I’m glad you don’t subscribe to that way of thinking. Thanks for being a good neighbor.

    And in the spirit of the last few posts, sorry Brent. I just kept the thread going…

  40. Seth says:

    out of curiosity,

    if an african american parent were to say, “the color of my child’s skin is going to make their life exponentially more difficult. i think i will find a light skinned mate, or better yet, adopt a caucasian baby.”

    do you guys think that would be ok?

  41. Christa says:

    I don’t think you would hear an african american person say that.

  42. seth says:

    no me either. see where i’m going?

  43. Christa says:

    Yep, point made.

  44. David Miller says:

    Back on target a bit, If you would like to sample local beef done right then stop by Midtowne Market for a taste of local and organic beef that is the exact same price as Food Lion. The producer is “Michael Weaver” who’s farm is in Keezletown. He offers beef in bulk if you want the real bargain or we’re (Midtownees) happy to help with smaller serving of deliciousness at a reasonable price. Also, we just worked out a deal with Homestead Creamery to offer their “local (Wirtz, VA)” milk. Its delicious and comes in reusable glass bottles that help reduce landfill impact. Sorry for the shameless plug of our store but I do feel like we do our part in our small way.

  45. David Miller says:

    Oh and Seth and Christa, you crack me up. ps Seth is one year older than I. Hint hint

  46. Emmy says:

    I picked up some of the strawberry milk in there the other day.! Loved it!

  47. David Troyer says:

    David,

    Is this the same “Michael Weaver” that sells Christmas trees?

  48. Thanh says:

    Yup. Same Michael Weaver. :)

Reader Tweets

Latest Flickr photos in the hburgnews Flickr pool
Announcements & Press Releases
  • Friendly City Grand Opening Set for July 9

    Friendly City Food Co-Op, Harrisonburg’s consumer-owned grocery, invites the community to come see its new destination for natural, organic and locally-produced products at the store’s grand opening 11 a.m.-5 p.m. July 9 at 150 East Wolfe Street.

  • Friendly City Becomes Member of National Cooperative Grocers Association

    HARRISONBURG, VA — Friendly City Food Co-op, slated to open this month in Harrisonburg, Va., has become the newest member of the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), a business services cooperative serving 120 consumer-owned food co-ops nationwide.

  • Harrisonburg Recognized as a Bike Friendly Community

    May 2: Harrisonburg was honored when the League of American Bicyclists announced the latest round of Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) designations over the weekend to kick off May as National Bike Month.