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Roots of Sustainability: Local eating


Video by Nora Rye (Office of Sustainability)

OHIO duo commits to local purchasing
Apr 12, 2010
By Amy Nordrum

This year, Ohio University's Earth Month observation focuses on sustainability issues surrounding the most fundamental of human needs: food. This weekly series seeks to address many aspects of a sustainable food system, including organic, local, vegetarian and vegan choices.

The collection of food has come a long way, from hunting and gathering to the convenience of modern supermarkets.

In the past century, improvements in transportation, refrigeration and large-scale agricultural production have concentrated the business of food to a few regions of the country. The evolution of the supermarket as the one-stop food shop places most people at the end of a long, drawn-out process that begins an average of 1,500 miles from their home, according to the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture.

Our modern methods of food-gathering rely on tanks of fossil fuels, which are responsible for greenhouse gas emissions and are expected to become more expensive as demand increases globally. Committed ?locavores,? or people who make an effort to buy as much local food as possible, might say it also compromises the sense of place and community inherent in recognizing the seasonal rhythm of the land on which your food is produced.

The hand-to-hand exchanges at the Athens Farmer?s Market, the freshness of a just-picked tomato, and the one-of-a-kind atmosphere of a local restaurant are just a few of the perks that locavores have come to appreciate.

Angela Lash and Jim Harris knew this when, last November, they committed to buying more local foods. Inspired by films and books about conventional food production and its alternatives, like Food Inc. and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, the couple has ramped up their local food purchases from 10 to about 80 percent.

Lash is a second-year graduate student in the College Student Personnel Program at Ohio University, and Harris works in the Alumni Relations Department. Both have lived in Athens for nearly 10 years.

Even though their switch came during the cold months of winter, Lash and Harris have found a relative abundance of local foods available year-round at businesses like the Village Bakery and the Farmacy. The Farmer?s Market is another favorite weekly stop.

?You can get eggs, meat, cheese, vegetables, fruit, bread, noodles,? said Lash, adding, ?Jim has a thing for the Amish doughnuts.?

The key, Lash says, is to focus on what is available instead of what foods a locavore has to give up. Though bananas were a tough sacrifice, Lash has tested new recipes, like a curried butternut squash rice soup.

Harris, too, has opened up his mind and tastes to new produce.

?I?ve discovered turnips,? he said, "and rediscovered apples.?

For Lash and Harris, the connection they feel to their fellow Athenians when picking up their box of produce from the Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program at Green Edge Gardens justifies the extra effort and cost it sometimes takes to support the local economy. The Farmer?s Market, in particular, is also a social hub of friends and neighbors.

Lash and Harris try to purchase only local items, but are quick to admit that their system is not perfect. Not all items at Village Bakery or the Farmacy are grown locally. And when it comes to chocolate and coffee ? items they simply can't live without ? they must settle for fair trade because neither can be grown in southern Ohio.

?Sometimes organic wins; sometimes fair trade wins; sometimes convenience trumps everything,? Harris said.

There is perhaps one photo that could summarize Lash and Harris? mutual dedication to local foods. On their wedding day last summer, the couple posed in full wedding regalia aside the Burrito Buggy ? a true testament to the couple's local food foundations.


The Office of Sustainability has partnered with students, faculty, staff and community members to develop Ohio University?s second annual Earth Month, which continues this week with a tour of Snowville Creamery and other events. The full Earth Month schedule is available at www.ohio.edu/sustainability/EarthMonth2010.htm.

 


*Following this link takes you outside of Ohio University's Web site.

 

Published: Apr 12, 2010 8:13 AM

 
Burrito Buggy

Angela Lash and Jim Harris pose in full wedding regalia aside the Burrito Buggy -- a testament to the couple's local food foundations.  

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