How much of the food you will eat today will be locally produced? And how much will travel hundreds, if not thousands, of miles before it is delivered to your plate?
The more food miles that are attached to a given food, the less sustainable and the less environmentally desirable that food is. The term food miles has become part of the vernacular among food professionals when describing the farm to consumer network of food.It’s so rare we get to connect with exactly where our food comes from,but when I return from the market with dirt that grasps my potatoes, it does just that.
Once upon a time organically classified produce was all the rage.Times change and fashions change.The fashion now is for foods that are "locally produced".Nobody seems to be able to answer the question why this produce can not be locally produced and nevertheless be organic.Money I presume is the the short answer with "locally produced" a concession to the supposed cost (and carbon footprint) of transport.
Local food now represents an alternative to the global food model, a model which often sees food travelling long distances before it reaches us the consumer. A local food network involves relationships between food producers, distributors, retailers, and consumers in a particular place, where they work together to increase food security and ensure economic, ecological and social sustainability of a community.Locally grown food has a significant connection to organics. For one thing, many local farms are organic (some certified, some not certified).
More important, though, is the raging debate about which is better: certified organic food or local food. While both local and organic foods carry pros and cons, people have some very strong opinions about which is best, and many like myself would like to purchase both locally-produced and organically-grown food.
People who buy this produce may also want to see sustainable production and distribution business practices. Animal welfare issues and fair farm labour practices also are important to many customers who strive to "buy local."
Finally, "the story behind the food" may be important to some customers, who like to meet growers and understand their ethics.
Organic farming can help cut greenhouse emissions: it uses less water and less energy than conventional farming, which is heavily dependent on high-energy processes and fossil fuels for fertilisers and pesticides. Organic food production is also better for wildlife, livestock, people and the environment.
A word on buying direct: because all the produce has been grown, reared or produced by the people who are selling it, you can find out everything you want to know about the food and how it was grown or cooked. The money you spend goes directly to the people who actually do the work to produce the food you're eating - the farmers and makers - rather than supermarkets and wholesalers.
Stay in touch with the seasons and discover produce you've never had before. There won’t be plums or sardines in April but, when they are in season, the farmers,fishermen and artesan producers will bring in many different varieties. You’ll also find produce you may not have come across before, such as organic hams ,cured sausages and rare cheeses.
It has always been part of our mission statement here at Casa rosada to dispel the view that the Algarve is just about beaches and leisure activities.In Baixo Guadiana,the area in which we live,far from the main cities of the Algarve is an unknown world.We are in Castro Marim a stones throw from Spain.Our nearest town is Vila Real de Santo António and just up the river is the pretty little town of Alcoutim.These three towns for some part live off the produce of the people who work in the surrounding countryside.To give this area the recognition it truly deserves a project has been launched to show that this area rises above the vulgarity of mass tourism and exposes a "real Algarve"
'Choose Our Food' project wants to broaden horizons and get the message out there to promote wonderful local artesan products.This is a movement for the Algarve, for those who live here but also its visitors.
Choose our Food, launched by Odiana, the Baixo Guadiana Development Association, which includes Alcoutim, Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo António, is a project that aims to create a cooperative network to promote food products in the region and reveal the potential of its gastronomy.Choose our Food aims to maximize regional agri-food products and strengthen business cooperation in the region. The agricultural heritage of the Baixo Guadiana is of unequaled wealth, the result of diverse cultural influences and ideal climatic conditions. The excellence of the products from the region are untouched by the major engines of the tourist industry.Despite their excellence these products,are sometimes more easily exported from the region than sold and consumed within its boundaries. It seems that the hotel industry consumes products from outside the region rather than promoting what is readily available locally.This disregard for local resources is also linked to the large proliferation of supermarket chains with a wide range of associated products which, either because of low cost or centralized purchasing makes traditional products less competitive. All these factors led to the development of the "Choose our Food" project. This project is a mission for the sustainable development of the region.Over the coming months Casa Rosada is planning some field trips to meet and then promote through blog posts some of these artesan producers.We then at some point plan to have a tasting evening for an invited audience of restaurateurs and members of the expat community who work and live here.
Shop local, buy local, get to know local, spread the "local" word and take local home.