Adventures in food shopping

Last week it was time for another trip to the farmers’ market.  I got potatoes, small red ones to try for seed potatoes and also to eat; I fried the eating ones in a little butter this morning.  Yum.  I also got sweet potatoes, which were much smaller than the ones in the grocery store.  I liked that; each one is a serving.  They’re very yummy, too.  I also got green onions and carrots; I wanted to make fried rice and I like it with carrots and green onions.  I also have two loaves of carrot-pineapple bread in the oven right now.  Mmmm. 

I’ll probably make carrot muffins, too.  I don’t like carrots much to eat alone, raw or cooked, but I do like them in things.  I looked for carrots that were unpackaged at the farmers’ market, like the potatoes and onions were, but I didn’t see any.  I didn’t pay attention to the bag when I picked it up, and when I looked at it this morning I was amazed to see that my carrots were grown in Canada!  Now, I know there are carrots growing somewhere in Florida, or at least closer to here than Canada.  Weird.  I’m not sure that my farmers’ market is as local as most of them are.  The carrots were nice ones, and still cheaper than in the grocery store – but why would our farmers’ market have carrots from Canada??  It makes me wonder about the produce there in general.  I know that the peaches have to come from South Carolina; peaches don’t grow in Central Florida, as far as I know.  Everything else they have should be able to be grown here, though.  And they still didn’t have any strawberries.  That’s weird too; even Publix has strawberries from Florida in the summer.  (Although the organic strawberries are from California.  I didn’t get any.)

I needed pineapple for the bread, and I also have a recipe for pineapple-zucchini bread that I want to try.  Both recipes called for 1 cup/8 oz. of crushed pineapple, so I got one 20-oz. can and I can just eat the rest.  I looked at the Publix pineapple, and it said Product of Thailand.  Well, you can’t get much farther away from the U.S. than that.  I looked at the Libby’s pineapple – same thing.  So I looked at the Dole pineapple, thinking it would surely be U.S. grown – but it’s from Thailand too.

Now, I have been on the Dole pineapple plantation in Hawaii, on Oahu, and it’s my understanding that they also own most (if not all) of the island of Lanai, and most of the pineapple is grown there now.  They do still grow pineapple on the tourist-access plantation, though.  I saw them with my own eyes.  The weather in Hawaii never changes much, so they can grow pineapple all year long.  Why on earth would Dole bring in pineapple from Thailand??  Are the labor costs that much cheaper that it’s worth the transportation cost to bring it all that way?  I guess that’s probably it – although, with gas prices doing what they are, I bet it’s not worth it nearly as much as it used to be even a year ago.

I’m reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle right now, and it’s great.  Anyone who’s interested in where our food comes from should read it.  In one chapter she talks about the organic food vs. local food debate; I’ve seen that discussed a lot on blogs too.  Her take is that local is always better.  It may not be organic, but local food supports local businesses and farmers, and doesn’t do nearly as much damage to the climate from transporting the product halfway around the world.  A lot of small farms are organic, but they can’t afford the certification, so they can’t actually call themselves organic.  And, a lot of corporate organic farms do as little as possible to get the certification.

My take on it is that I’d rather eat local than organic, too.  Organic is nice when it’s available and not ridiculously expensive.  But I’d rather eat Florida non-organic strawberries than California organic ones.  I’m not all that concerned about carcinogens.  I grew up in a town that was full of chemical plants; my junior high and high school were both within sight of all of them.  During outdoor band practice, sometimes the air was so bad you couldn’t take a deep-enough breath to play the next four measures.  I’ve already been exposed to more carcinogens than a lot of people will get in their entire lifetimes.  And, except for small skin cancers, no one in my family has ever had any sort of cancer.  Ever.  Back through at least my great-grandparents.  Even the heavy smokers.  If there’s an anti-cancer gene, we seem to have it.

Anyway, I’ll keep getting the vast majority of my produce at the farmers’ market, because I’d rather have South Carolina peaches than California ones, and I’d rather have carrots from Canada than from Thailand or some other faraway place.  One person can only do the best that she can do.  And, I hope by next year, I’ll be harvesting my own carrots.  🙂

Boy, is that bread smelling good.

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