Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What's Local This Week at (My) Whole Foods


It's a truism of local eating, eat what's available not necessarily what you want. For instance, my local CSA provided me this week with a Napa cabbage. I use that for slaw even if I'm more in the mood for a red cabbage slaw. Obviously, things are a bit more complicated. A bit of attention to eating local, and you realize that whole categories of foods are seasonal. Take soup, I mean stock or related, braises. Good braises or stocks require aromatics like carrots, leeks, onions, and celery.

From the Eastern Market in Detroit, we had a sackful of Michigan winter carrots. Lying around our basement fridge from a late Winter Farmer Vicki delivery was "cutting celery" or German celery or leaf celery (i.e., stemless celery), which is good for nothing but seasoning. My thrifty wife preserved some leek tops in the freezer. There are enough onions in storage. We were ready for a red wine braised beef. We bought six pounds of chuck. Then, Bugs Bunny of a daughter number 1 ate all the carrots.

Even a dedicated localvore finds himself in the Whole Foods produce aisle once in a while. We needed carrots or the beef would be spoiled (heaven forbid we do the braise sans carrots). Now, localvores have been sneering at Whole Foods, and mostly for good reason. It is the epitome of global-cororganic food, with as much food from New Zealand, Mexico and Chile (it seems) than even evil California. Whole Foods has tried, realizing the Time Magazine spotted trend that is Eat Local. For instance, here I reported on some local food exposure at Whole Foods last September. Here in River Forest, through the fall they sold produce from Driftless Organic in Wisconsin.

And yesterday when I saw a sign, one sign amidst all the grown in California, for kale grown in Wisconsin, I went to buy it. I did not even need kale, having other greens from last week's CSA, but I wanted to help show Whole Foods that people would buy local. There were two different kales in front of me. Both had "cal-organic" labels. I asked. It seems that there was no local kale, only a sign for local kale..."it's our only sign for dinosaur kale." Perhaps, Whole Foods was capitalizing on the eat local trend without supplying local food. Maybe (!)

Typically, the produce guy sneered when I asked where was the local kale. The presumption remains that it is not possible to have anything local yet in this part of the world. Yet, my farmer filled (kinda) a box this week. There is no reason Whole Foods cannot develop better relationships with farmer's like Vicki that use hoop houses to jump start the growing season. There should be more than nothing local each week at Whole Foods

1 comment:

nicole said...

i am a loyal whole foods customer, yet i am disappointed over and over again at their lack of commitment to local foods. i bought a share of angelic organics this year and when that comes to an end i'll probably use irv and shelly's fresh picks for winter(they do their best for local!).