After plenty of research and about a week of deliberation, I decided today to sign up for the Winter/Spring farm share from Enterprise Farms. Running from December through March, the Enterprise share does things a little differently than you'd expect. In addition to providing local (and obviously seasonal, or stored) farm goods, they have also partnered with organic farmers within what they refer to as the "Atlantic Foodshed". This includes produce (all organic) from growers up in Quebec all the way down in Florida.
Now I know that all those die-hard locavores have been up in arms about this approach, but after finishing up "Plenty" last week, I've been giving this a lot of thought, trying to establish a fundamental set of consumption practices and principles that I can both promote and adhere to. Yes, I believe that the "100-mile diet" perspective is unnecessarily narrow, but mostly in the respect of considering imported goods, like coffee, tea, chocolate and olive oil. Since there's no way in holy hell I'm living without French cheese and wine, Spanish piquillos, and so on, what's an acceptable range for gathering "fresh" foods, including produce, meat and dairy?
Drawing a 100, 250, or even 500 mile radius seems somewhat arbitrary to me. What I keep coming back to is simply making the effort to have some knowledge of the source of my food, limiting the degrees of separation as much as possible, ensuring traceability. Proximity seems at least to be a basic part of that equation. Could I make it until May without eating a pepper? If my only option was to purchase a greenhouse variety from Holland or a field variety from Mexico, then yes. Will I last through the winter without a lemon or an orange? Nope. Sorry. But now I will have access to both, direct from organic farmers to my door. In February.
I can't guarantee that the 700-odd miles from Florida or the Carolinas offers a materially reduced carbon footprint than travel from California. (Well it can't hurt.) But I can guarantee that the items haven't been jockeyed between various distribution centers before reaching my grocery store. I can guarantee that Enterprise has cultivated relationships with farmers whose growing methods are organic and sustainable and by no means industrial. And I can guarantee that I'll be eating a diverse and healthy diet of whole foods over the course of the New England winter.