by Dale Finseth
Given the way our gardens are beginning to produce, it is time to be eating other local foods available at roadside farm stands, farmer's markets and in your local grocery store. "Eating local" is becoming much easier.
Over the past couple of years, the number of small farm operations that produce local products has grown. In Maine, the quickest growth in agriculture is coming from these smaller agricultural operations that grow fruits and vegetables, produce artisan cheeses, or even produce locally processed food products. The primary arguments made in favor of eating locally are fresher food, food safety and knowing where your food comes from. Another issue receiving more attention is the question of how much energy is needed to get us our food. Those foods from around the world are likely to require much more energy to get them here and generate a larger carbon footprint.
A local orchard operator talks about how many gallons of gasoline it takes to get a bushel of California apples to your store instead of the ones from her orchard. The food on our dinner plate has traveled an average of 1,800 miles in order to finally get to our plate. That's a lot of hydrocarbons used to get our food to the table. The carbon footprint generated is not usually figured into the price. It seems inconsistent that our food must travel such a distance to get to us when we are able to purchase it from our neighbor and know exactly how it got to our plate.
Even here in Maine we have local choices throughout the year. With the current use of "hoop houses" and green houses, growers are finding that they are able to extend their growing season by starting earlier in the spring and growing later into the fall.
Later this summer, on August 24 and 25, the annual Maine Farm Days extravaganza is on tap. Here is local food being produced on a grand scale. It is scheduled mid-week on Wednesday and Thursday. This is an opportunity for the public to visit a local farm as part of the Maine Farm Days Agricultural Exposition. Misty Meadows Farm in Clinton, Maine will host this year. This is the same farm that hosted three and four years ago.
There will be displays, a kid's tent, equipment displays, a wagon tour and many other activities over the two days
Make sure to visit. Check out more information at the Maine Farm Days website.
Dale Finseth, Art Grindle, and Josh Platt work for the the Kennebec County Soil & Water Conservation District in Augusta. For more information about the district and its projects, one may call them at