Having the Eat Local Challenge in May this year has forced me to think about it differently than when it was in August last year. Now the farm stores aren’t open and the farmer’s markets will open soon with limited produce. So for this year the Eat Local challenge will be mostly about mindfulness.
Mindfulness to me means to think about what I am eating. What is the source of the food? What is the cost – environmental and human – to produce that food? Are the animal products coming from humane farms? Is it better to drive out of my way to get a superior product or is it better to buy something that may not be as good but uses less gasoline?
These all come together here in the issue of eggs. You can buy local eggs here in the supermarket. They are the cheapest eggs that you can buy. They only drive a few miles to get to the store. But the farm is a confinement factory farm with thousands and thousands (at least) of chickens in long barns in small cages. Ever since I moved here the farm has been in the news for repeated breaking of environmental regulations. Community uproar finally led the owner of the company to sell the farms and leave the country. The furor has died down some since then but the farm is still being managed in the same way. So here is a case where eating locally is not the best option for me.
I have been buying the cage-free, vegetarian fed hen’s eggs from the store. I’m willing to pay the premium price for them for humane issues. One of my goals for the challenge is to find a local source of fresh eggs. Ideally I’d want the farm to be on my way to somewhere else I go to save on gas. I would like the chickens to be free-ranging happy pets. I’ve found a source of eggs but I’m not sure I’ve found my ideal humane source of eggs yet.
I’m writing about my great egg hunt at the Eat Local blog.