Nutritionist, professor, author and local food advocate Joan Dye Gussow spoke with blogger Debbi Snook of the Plain Dealer on Tuesday at Ohio’s organic food conference. Since the 1970s Gussow has been promoting the local food movement and is glad to see that it is finally starting to catch on in some areas.
Local ingredients are popping up in restaurants across the states. Using local ingredients can be difficult. Eating local means eating seasonally, and breaking the habit getting any thing at any time is hard to do. When consumers are so used to buying imported peaches in the middle of February, it’s difficult for them to part with that notion. Restaurants though are slowly beginning to see through this to the benefits such as helping the local economy, saving on shipping and providing customers with fresher foods.
It’s not just trendy health food restaurants of eco-friendly cafes that have hopped on board now. Hearty home-town diners have even seen the perks. In New Jersey, Vincetown Diner provides a typical middle-class working-man town with locally sourced ingredients. They are sure to not make the dining experience anything snobbish to put-off their costumers, they have just decided to support their neighbors.
Gussow explains that eating locally is not meant to be restricting. “There are people who think [eating locally] means you can’t have an orange in winter,” she said. “I get a box of grapefruit every year from Texas. It ships once and I use it for two months. It’s a wonderful winter treat.”
Even gradually accenting ones regular grocery visit with a stop at a farmers market can offer benefits. Gussow sees Ohio as a very self-sustaining state in food production outside the corporate food industry which she fears.
“[People don’t see] how dysfunctional and dangerous our present food system is. It’s dangerous in terms of toxic things such as E. coli scares of lettuce and in the way our standard meat system handles and slaughters animals,” she said. “Or to the degree to which we depend on people who make less than they can live on. The hope is that with a local-food system, you can watch what’s going on. You can be aware where food comes from and be responsible for it.”
Gussow is very happy to see this move forward after all her efforts over the years. Even schools are trying to push their lunch menus in the local direction. In the movements progression forward, many branches are beginning to grow out of it. Even the Obamas have planted a garden to provide the most local of foods from the backyard.
Although Gussow has been waiting to see this for over 40 years, she still appreciates the gradual acceptance of eating locally.