Arts and Entertainment

In Good Taste: Define what it means to eat local

Buying food locally, both for business and personal use, is important to me and many people have no idea what it even means.

Local, independent businesses are the heart and soul of any community; it is time for our community to get back to these values. More often than not, it is the knowledgeable service and attention to your needs that you value and respect in these businesses. Local businesses contribute to the community by keeping money here and supporting our immediate economy. Every dollar you spend at a community merchant has three times the impact in our regional economy. Local businesses are more likely to contribute to schools, area projects, community fundraisers, neighborhood functions and civic projects, with no strings attached.

My favorite reason for buying locally grown food is that it almost always tastes better. The economic importance is second, and I also like to focus on the lessened environmental impact of local food.

Whenever we can buy foods produced right here in Kitsap County we are thrilled. Our flour comes from southwest Washington, emmer (farro) comes from the Methow Valley, salts are produced by family-owned company in Woodinville, and they get our table salt from Sonoma County waters. Our milk and eggs are western Washington raised, without steroids or antibiotics, and our distributor for them is a family-owned company in Bremerton. Coffee does not grow here, so we choose to purchase it from a roaster right here in Silverdale. Sometimes local is as close as our own neighborhood. Other times it is more regional, depending on what we are trying to source. Sometimes it is simply supporting a distributor who is a local, independent business, just like we are.

All food is not local. One-fifth of all petroleum used in the United States is used by the food industry. Because the average ingredient travels 1,500 miles before it reaches your plate, 6 to 12 percent of every dollar spent on food is for transportation costs alone. When you shop at a farmers market you are supporting your neighbor, and the small farmer who you buy from will keep about 90 cents of every dollar you spend with her. When you shop for your ingredients at a grocery store, 91 cents of every dollar will go to the middlemen and the farmer will receive 9 cents, if the store will accept food from small farmers in the first place.

The concept of thinking local first is much more meaningful than just buying locally. My dream for our community is to have everyone think local first in all aspects of our lives.

I would like to challenge us all to think about what local consequences there may be to our actions, and to create our personal definitions of local.

For now, check out the wonderful bounty of great local foods at Fresh-Local Bremerton 540 4th St. downtown, or online at http://freshlocal-bremerton.com/ Tell me what you think, I would love to hear from you.

Monica Downen, along with her husband Mark, owns Monica's Waterfront Bakery & Cafe in Old Town Silverdale. Contact her by phone at (360) 698-2991, by email at monica@waterfrontbakery.com and find her on the web at www.WaterfrontBakery.com.

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