I am a big fan of local food.
I picked up my Thanksgiving Turkey this year from the farm it was raised. And the pumpkin, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cranberries, eggs and corn meal in the meal were all local.
With that said, I really, really want to see the local food movement grow.
But do Local Food Eaters really want it to grow?
I have been thinking about that lately and part of me thinks NO.
The reason I say this is because I question the incentive for individual local food eaters to bring more people into the fold.
Are local food eater like myself telling friends, increasing our numbers, dragging reluctent friends to the farmers market?
A few years back, I belonged to a food club that offered raw milk. The club was kind of secretive, and I got the feeling that most in the club wanted to keep it that way.
More local food eaters means more competition for the limited supply of locally produced food.
Would the good nature local food eater (myself included) feel OK when they can’t get into a CSA, or they can’t get local eggs, or they get shut out of a community garden plot, or if there is a wait list for chicken when it once was easy to get?
Promoting local food feels like shooting ourself in the foot.
It’s like telling everyone about our favorite restaurant, which results in us never getting a table.
The incentive to not share in our good thing is strong.
But this mentality has a risk because we need more local food eaters.
Without more local food eaters, the movement is sunk because more local food eaters means more local farmers and larger/more farmers markets to meet demand, more local food restaurant, more prepped food products and more access all around for locally produced grown food.
There currently is not enough farmers market shoppers in my town to buy up the current farm production.
There are simply more food shoppers shopping some where else then from local farmers at the farmers market.
So perhaps the current group of local food folks have little to worry about, but that is my point here.
I feel that local food eaters and the movement enjoys the current size of the local food movement and I am one of them, I have to admit.
There is plenty of local food for us now, but not if our numbers grew.
Indeed local food access has grown. It is easier to eat more locally (in some areas). And without the work of local food advocates for years, the current folks like myself who enjoy access to local food would not be able to enjoy their local Thanksgiving.
But I do feel that the movement is vulnerable to stall because of an inclussive and hoarding mentality.
What I say, eventhough it may be shooting ourselves in the foot in the short run, is to tell a friend about local food. Get more folks to eat more locally.
This means dragging your friends to the farmers market until they become regulars, and then not complaining when it gets hard to get some of your local food items.
Be patient supply will grow to meet the increased demand and that is better for all of us.