Savoring the Seasons: What’s the economic impact of buying local food?

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For the Recorder
Published: 4/12/2016 11:44:57 AM

Every day, I have a choice of what I eat, where it comes from, where I buy it.
I eat locally grown food for many reasons … including that it tastes great, I often know who grew it, I am grateful to live near farms, and because it didn’t use lots of energy traveling here from far away.

Every day, my choice of what I eat matters not just for me, but for the well-being of our community.

Really? My choices impact our community’s well-being?

It’s easy to think “I’m just one person, it doesn’t matter if I spend $5 on vegetables from the other side of the continent or planet instead of on vegetables that grew in Franklin County.”

It was easy to think that until I checked out CISA’s Local Food Impact Calculator. I went to www.buylocalfood.org/buy-local/local-food-calculator/ and entered numbers about what I spend on food, where it comes from, and who I bought it from. Here’s what I learned: “If every household in Hampshire, Hampden, and Franklin Counties spent just $5 more on local food and $5 less on non-local food each month, $7,537,560 more local income would be generated per year and 48 local jobs would be created.”

Imagine what more than $7.5 million would do for western Mass.

I’ve been thinking about that as I continue grinning about CISA raising more than $100,000 for its Local Food For All program to provide matching of SNAP dollars spent at farmers markets and to support CSA shares for seniors.

The sun is getting higher. Soon, spring and summer farmers markets will be opening. The Greenfield Farmers Market on Court Square in downtown Greenfield opens on Saturday, April 30, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. I’ll be there, saying “hello” to farmers I haven’t seen since last fall, spending more than $5 on tasty food, visiting with friends.

New this year in Greenfield is the GCC-student-led Tuesday Farmers Market, open Tuesdays starting April 26, 1:30 to 6:30 p.m., in the alleyway of Sears Ave (off Main Street in downtown Greenfield). Created in partnership with Greenfield Community College, Franklin Community Cooperative, and CISA in an initiative led by the Co-op, this new market is GCC student-led, cooperatively operated, and community supportive, as well as working to be zero food-waste. Learn more at:
tuesdayfarmersmarket.wordpress.com

Which farmers markets are opening soon in your town or neighborhood?

At CISA’s Annual Meeting recently, I visited with Belle Rita Novak, long-time manager of the Forest Park Farmers Market in Springfield. Seeing her reminded me of her tasty Onion Pie she brought to the 2009 CISA Annual Meeting potluck.

This week we’re eating …

Onion Pie

Belle Rita Novak, Springfield

For a deep 13 x 9 pan, I used 8 eggs, one pint or so of half and half, a little hot sauce, Parmesan/Romano cheese and paprika

Crumb crust (ideally) made with Ritz or Ritz-type crackers and butter

Onions, lots and lots sautéed in olive oil and butter

Whole milk, half and half, or non-fat half and half. Not skim, 1% or 2%

Eggs

Cheese, sharp cheddar, or any other kind you like

Hot sauce

Paprika

Sauté onions for about 45 minutes in olive oil and butter, stirring frequently until caramelized. Meanwhile make crumb crust and bake for about 10 minutes. Make enough for the bottom, or up the sides, whatever. Put sautéed onions into crust. Mix cream or whatever you're using, eggs, hot sauce, and a little salt and pepper. Put on top of onions. Shred cheese (about 1/2#) on top of mixture. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350-375 about 40 minutes.

For hors d’oeuvres, make it in shallow pan and cut into small squares and serve in muffin papers.

P.S. For more exact amounts, go to the internet and search for “vidalia onion pie.” You don't need to use sweet onions for this, as they are sweet when they are caramelized. But you knew that.

Local food advocate and community organizer Mary McClintock lives in Conway and works as a freelance writer for Greenfield Community College, brand promoter for Goshen-based local food company Appalachian Naturals, and writer/editor for More Than Sound. Send column suggestions and recipes to: mmcclinto@yahoo.com


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