McKibbin’s Scribblin’s: Local food makes sense for Rifle
People who know me well know I like to eat well. By “well” I mean healthy, or at least healthier than what we’re told is the average American diet.
It’s been that way for me for probably 30+ years. I’m not a strict vegetarian or vegan; I haven’t had red meat in about three decades and I avoid as much salt as I can. I do eat chicken and fish, but never eat junk food and, perhaps fortunately, never developed a sweet tooth. So candy, cake, ice cream and that lot are not missed. For most of the last 20-some years, my lunch has consisted of large Tupperware containers of salad.
But I’ve never tried to force my eating choices on anyone. Everyone is different, and I know some people can eat anything they want and never put on a pound or have any health concerns. I just think there are a lot of health-related problems related to what we eat and drink.
At any rate, I bring this up after sitting down and talking to Andrea Matthews and Tricia Cleis, two Rifle ladies who want to bring the “local food” movement to Rifle. Everything they talked about made good, common sense to me and I’m hoping they are met with great success.
As I always try to do with each story I write, I did a little research into “local food” and found one website, earthsfriends.com, that noted the idea certainly isn’t new.
“Forty years ago, it was mostly grown hippies and environmentalists who promoted local food,” according to the site. “College towns had food co-ops and bigger cities hosted weekend farmers markets. Today, politicians, white collar workers, blue collar workers, housewives, retirees, college students and people from all parts of society are getting on the local food movement bandwagon.”
And the definition of “local” is kind of sketchy. Earth’s Friends notes it can simply mean to look for foods produced as close to home as possible. But you can also draw every-expanding circles around the place you live and consider that “local” when it comes to food.
Indeed, several years ago, Colorado Mountain College’s Common Reader program featured “The 100-Mile Diet,” a best-seller that helped popularize the local foods movement. It focused on the year-long efforts of a Canadian couple, Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon, to only consume food that came from within a 100-mile radius of their Vancouver apartment.
I read the book and talked to the authors for a story at the time and remember thinking it would be great to be able to do this in Rifle. What if we could get all we needed or wanted to eat locally?
And it’s not like that idea hasn’t started to take root (pun intended) in Rifle already.
Grand River Health has been growing healthy vegetables in a greenhouse and serving them in salads in the hospital’s cafe.
A community garden offered by the Bookcliff Council on the Arts and Humanities has been very popular and the group is apparently looking at adding a second garden at their site.
I have a peach tree in my backyard and last summer was finally successful getting a cherry tomato plant to provide dozens and dozens of shiny red tomatoes, before the wind that always seems to blow blew the upside-down hanging planter off its post and broke the stem towards the end of summer.
But to have someone organizing and promoting local foods on a broader basis in and around Rifle should only be positive.
Of course, as the Earth’s Friends website also points out, not eating locally grown food is usually cheaper. That doesn’t seem to make sense, but the site said because of advancements in technology and the effects of globalization, it is cheaper to obtain foods grown in other countries than foods grown at home. And, if you’ve ever shopped at a natural or organic grocery store, you know nearly every fruit or vegetable costs more than the same fruit or vegetable at City Market or Walmart. (Kudos, though, to City Market for increasing their stock of organic (although imported) produce in recent years, where previously they had none.)
Whether or not Andrea Matthews and Tricia Cleis are successful depends on many factors. But with a growing and expanding movement towards eating healthier and growing our own food as the impetus, it makes sense for Rifle to jump on board the bandwagon.
Mike McKibbin is the editor of The Citizen Telegram.
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A conservation nonprofit is hosting a guided hike in both Spanish and English at Rifle Arch to celebrate Colorado Public Lands Day, a news release states.