Bioengineered Foods · Gardening · Homesteading · Urban Homesteading

Eating Local Matters

Sometimes I need a trip to clear my mind. And maybe going on the largest carbon footprint trip of my life really opened my eyes. I traveled somewhere between 18,000 and 19,000 miles by plane and ship to reach the Antarctica Peninsula the past 2 weeks. It was a glorious trip, a life bucket trip. And I enjoyed my time there. Until I started thinking halfway through. About the actual cost of my coming there – of anyone coming there.

I preach a lot about “eating local” and supporting local growers producers (because you will eat in season, eat fresher and keep your local people in business instead of supporting Big Ag) but even I don’t always follow my advice/nagging. Because it isn’t easy to provide/find everything you want (note I said want, not need……). Those Cheetos are not needed. Even when 2 boys look at me with sad eyes at the store. And it’s easy to give in to them.

But I will admit this: I had become burnt out in preaching it. It just didn’t seem to hit home with those I write or talk to in the past year.

I was VERY disappointed before the trip. I didn’t want to work on our farm/homestead. I had held a seed swap in the weeks before I left. I was bitter, even salty over it. The year before, in 2022, the turnout had been huge. This year, same crowd, and almost no one showed up. That hurt deeply. I had more people driving by, who saw the signs, who popped in as random strangers. I run a seed swap that is more a seed giveaway. I WANT people to grow food. I felt it like a slap. To my soul. Who I thought was my people, they didn’t care anymore.

But how I felt? That with the pandemic run out mostly, people are back to their “normal”. They don’t see any reason to grow food anymore. It’s too much work, takes up their time, is messy. And they feel secure in that food is at the stores again (it isn’t, but it isn’t as obvious). They have sucked up to the rampant inflation and just buy what they want again.

It left me not excited about the coming spring. I just wanted to sit inside, in the dark. Where the days slip by.

I went on vacation. On the most over-the-top vacation I have ever gone on. I parked myself on a ship that was only a couple months old, where it was touted as a luxury expedition to Antarctica, where you were pampered. Being South America is still in summer, it did improve my mood to see the sun once again.

Oh you were pampered. That wasn’t a lie. I’ve been on multiple adventure cruises (where the numbers are low, and it’s about the outdoors) and this one was a 5 star hotel floating, where before they were more utilitarian ships. And for those first days, I relaxed in bougie-ville and enjoyed it.

Did I want a frappe made for me 18 hours a day? Well, there it was. Also, be sure to eat donuts, croissants, and gourmet muffins too!

But then I wrecked it for myself. So easily.

For I had brought along with me Peter Zeihan’s latest book “The End Of The World Is Just The Beginning: Mapping The Collapse Of Globalization“. Peter is a Geopolitical Analyst, and to say I am a fangirl is putting it lightly. And as the days stretched on, I read further. And further. And I was reminded about what really matters. And I learned a far deeper history lesson than I had expected.

As I sat trapped on a floating luxe hotel, at the end of the world. And reading further, having far too many deep talks with Kirk. He was listening to it on an audiobook. as the icebergs floated by we talked about the coming food insecurity and so much more.

Maybe bring a romance novel next time? Probably. I was told nastily by a nosy shipmate, upon seeing the title of the book, that “Why would you read such a depressing book!” She glowered at me and then went back to playing cards with her group of friends she had come with.

But then something else happened.

And yes, it relates to food. While the food was delicious and varied, it was nearly all European. Which made sense as the boat was built in Portugal and based out of there.

So much bread. And pastries. All French influenced. Don’t get me wrong, it was very good. But the flour’s foot print was massive. 

Everything was from there it seemed, outside of the imported-in Japanese Waygu burgers you could order whenever, it seemed.

Like this….love the flag font? It’s only a what….6,000 mile haul for this to show up. Between it and the lone bottle of Tabasco sauce offered, it was the only North American options I noted.

Near the end of the trip, the cruise director and the hotel director had a casual talk you could attend.

A question was posed about where did the food come from. It was answered that….most of it was literally shipped across the ocean to Ushaia, Argentina from Portugal. Only the fresh produce was acquired locally due to rules. And the small amount of Argentina beef served. A distance of over 7,000 miles one way, so you could eat fresh baked bread daily.


Total buzzkill.

I felt like an awful person at that moment. It was bad enough I had traveled that far, but to know the food I was gorging on mindlessly had come yet another 7,000 miles away?

But then, it was also a jarring feeling that outside of the produce and a bit of beef, the local countries of Argentina and Chile were barely being used, yet they grow amazing food. They have wine production, but the “premium” wine offered came from the United States – stuff I can buy at the local Safeway if I wanted to 7 days a week. Some of it was actually Washington State wines!

It’s easy to not notice where your food comes from. We are a world dependent on globalization. At the grocery store I can pull my head out and actually read – I know who owns what company and such after all. But it was easy to pretend all that food/drinks was magically “locally sourced” while on the ship.

I lost my appetite to be honest after that talk and it dimmed the last day on the ship. As we flew home, on 3 long flights, I thought so much about it all. I came home, caught up on sleep.

And then walked outside, to my land. To my homestead. And had never been so happy to be home. Feeling ready to go.

And realizing how important it all is.

I tried to eat eggs on the ship. They were flavorless. And being a Euro-centric menu, there was no salsa and 1 lonely bottle of Tabasco sauce offered. I gave up eating eggs, because they just had little flavor. They were just sad Big Ag eggs.

As I made breakfast on Friday morning, not functioning well from jet lag, I cracked eggs from our hens. The yolks were firm, and they were so yellow. I could smell them cooking and it had me hungry. I opened up a jar of salsa I canned last summer, and spooned some on.

And I thought to myself, as my mouth was so happy, that this is why eating local matters.

The taste. The smell. The knowing my hard labor mattered. I had a piece of bread I had frozen after baking weeks ago, with strawberry jam I made with our honey, that I canned.

The work IS worth it. For I knew where my food had come from. Who had touched it. Who had preserved it.

Yesterday I worked hard outside in the cold. Work hard enough and you start stripping down. I heard a bird song and realized I had just heard the first Robin calling out for the year. I planted pea starts I had left in the greenhouse before the trips, the garlic I had missed last summer during harvest, and saw shooting up randomly in beds I need to start planting – it’s in a new home now. I weeded beds. Got soil ready for upcoming planting. Visited the chickens and cleaned.

I came inside, and felt it. I had done something that mattered. I was providing for my family. I was in tune with nature once again. And I found my way back to having desire again to do this work.

And knowing that even if others don’t care, I do. And that is all that matters.

Eating local matters. For our health, for the world, for food security. For watching the massive global carbon foot print we can cause. Will it actually help if only a few of us opt out? No, it won’t globally. But it will when the day comes that those ships don’t show up, or the planes don’t touch down. For we need to eat locally for so many reasons. To eat more mindfully, to eat in season. To be connected to the Earth. To be less reliant on other countries.

As Spring arrives embrace the returning sun. Plant your seeds. Weed your beds. Add compost. Watch as the first leaves unfurl in the coming weeks, and the blossoms happen on the fruit trees.

I don’t regret my trip, for it showed me something I needed to see. It doesn’t matter what others do – it’s what I do. I feel alive again!