Harmony and grocery shopping in the Roaring Fork Valley | AspenTimes.com

Harmony and grocery shopping in the Roaring Fork Valley

Joni Keefe
Farms Finest
Joni Keefe/Special to The Aspen Times

On Tuesday night, I enjoyed a movie that was a part of the Aspen Ideas Festival. This was a beautifully presented documentary called “Harmony” hosted by the Prince of Wales.

The film explains sustainability and a healthy environment as a global issue. For me, a favorite part of this particular documentary was the interesting casting choice. A multigenerational grain farmer (Cajun grain rice) in Louisiana and the Prince of Wales expressed their heartfelt concern for the environmental changes they have witnessed. The seasoned, Southern farmer made a remark near the end of the show that made the global implications vivid.

He drawled, “Perhaps Prince Charles and I went to school together at one time! We have such similar views.”

So far apart from each other in every facet, yet both men hold a common view that sustainability is the golden key to saving the environment.

Populations cannot continue to exist with the continual draining of natural resources. It is that simple. When and how are we going change the pattern of taking and not replenishing? How long are we going to even have the luxury of mulling over options for change?

There is one choice that will create a positive effect immediately. This is simply to start by buying more groceries from your own regional foodshed. (A foodshed is the geographical distance where food supplies are produced to support a region. For some, “local’’ is a 100-mile radius, but this varies by agriculture richness.)

Sourcing food within the local region will have several direct effects. First, the miles necessary to travel from farm to plate are fewer. That equates to a smaller carbon footprint by creating less fuel consumption. Closer to the land of origin also means fresher and more nutrition for you. Another added bonus is that keeping money circulating inside a community adds to the vitality of the local economy.

Bottom lines are made by the consumer and how they choose to spend their dollars. Every time we open our wallets for grocery money, we are able to cast a vote for a more sustainable community.

Shopping at a grocery store will remain a major food-supply source. Clark’s Market and City Market increasingly offer more organic and local options all the time. Vitamin Cottage in Glenwood Springs, Whole Foods in Basalt and Roxy’s Market across from the Aspen airport are some wonderful healthy choices.

While shopping, consider what products we are encouraging the food factories to keep stocking on those shelves. What we put in our carts is a message sent. Learn more about simple healthy food versus industrial food. Notice the ridiculous marketing ploys of green washing. Empty only those shelves that are stocked with unprocessed grains, fruits and vegetables and best of all, the food sourced close by. Let those center-aisle shelves remain filled with those food imposters in their slick packages. Pick out your best food value, and leave all the rest.

Another next choice is to shop once or twice weekly for fresh, seasonal options. We have summer farmers markets that can be fun as well as purposeful shopping. There are community-supported agriculture associations everywhere now. This is where you receive a share of the weekly harvest in exchange for the membership. Products include fruits and vegetables, as well as eggs, milk, cheese, meats and honey. If a commitment to a season or year does not suit you, there are many of these associations that also have farm stores. Here you can stop by for a few groceries and ask about their various membership programs. There are also farms that will deliver to your the door weekly or have regular neighborhood routes where they meet and distribute to their customers.

Food co-ops are another local choice. These operate in a retail location and have not only local products but also buy in bulk, providing discounts for members. In co-ops, you can usually find everything you need from food to laundry detergent. Nonmembers can shop — but without the benefit of a membership-discount card. Volunteer hours often are exchanged for store discounts.

Community gardens and local farmers often are glad to sell surplus to neighbors. We do have many food-purchasing options available. A small adjustment in our buying habits will make a big change. Start with one transaction at a time.

Here are several local businesses to explore. “Like” Farms Finest on Facebook for a more listings and updates:

Borden Farms LLC — bordenfarms@gmail.com

Osage Gardens — theresa@osagegardens.com

Sustainable Settings — brook@sustainablesettings.org

Carbondale Co-op — 618-529-3533

Fresh & Wyld Farmhouse — davaparr@tds.net

Ellie Maes Farm Stand at Aspen Flying Circus and Emporium

Next week, we will be introducing you to yet another local food artisan!

Joni Keefe moved to the Roaring Fork Valley after a career in landscape design. She is passionate about local food and agriculture. For more information, her website is Farmsfinest.com, or follow her on Twitter. Connect at joni@farmsfinest.com.

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