Last weekend I bought some garlic that came from Italy.
I thought about it a bit. Held it in my hand and stared at it, papery skin shining under the flourescent lights of Food Basics. There were excuses: not enough time, it’s cheap, I’m already here… But I hesitated before tossing it into the grocery cart.
All summer Jason and I have been working with excuses. Saturday mornings are long, slow affairs that involve our once-a-week cup of coffee as we read books and talk. Once up, we take our dog for a run in the woods. By the time we get home, it’s often past 12:30, the time when the weekly Orillia Farmers’ Market shuts down.
No local food for us. No wandering stalls full of green, orange and red vegetables, glowing jars of honey, chicken that once ran around under the sun and fresh baked bread while the local folk band takes to the stage. If we were travelling, we’d be here in a jiffy, awed by the richness and colour of this 135-year-old market, buying stuffed olives and homemade crepes while perusing the wooden crafts and knitted tea-cozies (nothing that isn’t handmade is allowed at this market). But at home, we’re just too lazy.
This weekend, we decided to go. All week I’d been thinking about the garlic, imagining how much fuel it took to get it here and how quickly we’d used it up. I was thinking about Doug Porter, too. The chef at Collingwood’s Simcoe County Restaurant, he’d talked passionately about apples when I interviewed him last week. Imports are cheaper to buy so orchards in one of Ontario’s lushest apple belts are being razed for condos, he said.
As the rain slowly grew stronger in the growing grey of the day, we bought a jar of lavender honey from a beekeeper who lives just past the edge of town and organic tomatoes, potatoes, onions, spinach, squash and, of course, garlic grown on a farm fifteen miles away. All for about $30. We missed the whole summer!, we said to each other on the way home. How can that be?
That day, I picked up a copy of The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating. The book details the expensive, difficult and rewarding effort by J.B. MacKinnon and Alisa Smith to survive on food grown within a tight radius of their apartment as opposed to the typical 1500 to 2500 miles it travels to get to the grocery store. Three chapters in and I’m already wondering where we can store enough beets and potatoes to last us the winter. I’ll keep you posted.