Joel and Sarah Gagnon wrote:
> This is good information, and can be useful by way of illustration of 
> how far we have to go, and what is missing.

There's a lot missing, and a lot of what information is available 
doesn't translate to easy access.  Phase 2 of my eating local project 
will be about finding ways to share information on what local food is 
available and when.  I'll be more comfortable with that when I'm up to 
speed myself.

> How and where are these farm products marketed? If they are milled, 
> where is that happening, and are the products marketed locally? Some of 
> my friends have grain mills, but I don't think everyone having grain 
> mills is the way to address the need for milling, 

Yep - it's fun, but we bought it basically to fill a large gap in what 
looked possible.

 > nor is everyone
> driving to the producers the way to address distribution. 

Yes.  Right now eating local means a lot of driving around (unless, like 
Joel, you're eating largely from your own garden, or have similar 
resources nearby).  Buying frozen or canned foods in quantities helps, 
as does buying dry goods in quantity, but it's not really easy.

> The milling 
> should be local or at minimum regional, and the distribution via local 
> stores or cooperative buying clubs (which is how Greenstar got started). 
> The local mills will happen once more grain is produced in this area and 
> transportation costs rise enough to justify relocalization. Ditto with 
> the distribution. The local stores will reappear as the cost of driving 
> to centralized grocery stores increases and as the cost of goods in 
> those stores also rises because of transportation costs. I'm not holding 
> my breath waiting for the corner grocery to return, but I do expect a 
> gradual reduction in store size and a concomitant increase in local 
> goods in those stores.

I've been thinking for a while about an idea - I'm not sure it's mine - 
for a store I call "Your local Marco Polo".  Most of the store would be 
devoted to food from the surrounding area (with details on sources), 
while a small section would sell things like spices, the classic early 
trading goods.  (People talk about a "Marco Polo" exception when they do 
local eating projects, hence the strange name.)

If only I had the time and the cash to start that...  I think it could 
work really well in Tompkins County, at least.

I agree with Joel that the main driver for such things becoming common 
will be an increase in energy costs, especially driving costs.

> So what do we do in the meantime? We should support local production 
> whenever we can, buying in bulk to minimize the environmental cost. 
> Greenstar needs to do even more to support local production, and Wegmans 
> and others can be leaned on to do the same. Perhaps local buying clubs 
> would be a good interim effort to procure and distribute bulk goods. The 
> driving force for most buying clubs is to save participants money. It 
> would be interesting to see if buying local is enough of an additional 
> factor to expand the effort. Community Councils and similar neighborhood 
> groups could conceivably facilitate local distribution. Many of these 
> groups already run community centers, and some of them already 
> distribute food to low-income people. Why not expand the distribution to 
> include everyone, with the free stuff going to those who really need it?

All of that sounds good.  Right now I'm looking for information on Heart 
to Hand, a cornfield in Freeville that I think helps fill the local 
church food cupboard.  There's a lot that could be done to ease the 
distribution of these things, even in the absence of my crazy little store.

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