Eating Local: It’s About Values, Stupid

It was one of those memories… vague enough to give some doubt.  But since it was a landmark moment, here it is.

No promises.

Artisan Cheese
Artisan Cheese, another benefit of small producers

I was attending a meeting of the American Cheese Society.  In beautiful Burlington Vermont, the skies were blue, the air unseasonably hot—and local food was everywhere. Under an enormous tent, a keynote speaker stepped up to the podium.

The first slides are long forgotten, but a later one stood out.  It read simply, “It’s About Values, Stupid.” 

If life were a film, right then, the motion would have slowed. Insert long fade.


(Real) Free Range Chicken
(Real) Free Range Chicken

I began eating local/organic because I wanted to eat healthier.  I joined a CSA because it was a cost-effective way to get good food.  I did a buying club to keep getting good food in the winter.

But sometimes it all seemed too much.  The buying club would have a crisis that took hours to resolve; how much could I buy elsewhere for my time?   The CSA box would come during a work crisis and end up as compost.  Sigh.

But every time I thought about quitting, I stayed.  I chalked it up to being bad at handling change.


But now I thought about the buying club members.  Many couldn’t afford top dollar organic. I believe that good food should be available to all.

And then the farmers… who tend their crops with utmost care, saving heirloom seeds, pioneering grass-fed meats, fighting for clean water.  I believe the earth’s stewards deserve a livable wage.

In hindsight, I could see non-economic, value-based motives everywhere.


And the lightbulb went on.  To think that all this time I believed I was eating local/organic for my health.  It’s not surprising the math never worked.

But for some reason I always kept going.  I guess the unconscious is smart.


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