Miles Less Travelled

Pete's Greens, Craftsbury, VT

Nestled in lush green mountains, picturesque water sheds aplenty, overlooking an inviting rolling valley’s new crop row harvests, I find myself silently shouting out at the top of my lungs “Hooray, yippee!”.  I am excited to share new Two Guys in Vermont news, muse about “Know your farmer”, and chat about an emerging regional food supply network.

Two Guys in Vermont is founded on the belief that we can make delicious soups with fresh, regional farm foods (and reduce exposures to BPA while we’re at it!).  What’s in our jar today, and what we are striving for tomorrow, is a testament to this mission.  We have been able to buy 25% of our soups total fresh ingredients from our early-on regional farm partners.  This 25% represents our total recipe ingredient requirements, seasonally available or not (i.e.  We can’t get fresh New England carrots in January!).  If we measure what has been seasonally accessible we have bought more like 99% of what we could regionally.

Now that we have entered the harvest season the bounty is, well, for the picking.  We are excited to be partnering with another progressive regional farm, Pete’s Greens, Craftsbury, Vt..  This partnership will allow us to raise our percentage of regional fresh ingredients used in our soups to 51%!  Although we are excited about this achievement we know we can do even better as we continue to learn how to use more regional farm bought foods in our kettles.

Would you say there’s a movement blossoming, a re-connection of sorts back to trying to know where your food comes from?  I admire the USDA’s “Know your farmer, Know your food” campaign which personifies our agriculture buying experience, connecting our food with faces in our own community.  Personal food safety concerns have certainly inspired many to make “closer to its source” purchases, but folks are also skeptical of our existing food distribution network’s sustainability.  In addition to the feelings of safety and personal re-assurance that we get when buying regional farm foods, more of us are thinking about “food miles” (how many miles it takes for food to make it to our plates).  There was a recent study known to many as “The Taco Project“.  Don’t let the cute name deceive you.  The subject was a taco whose ingredients travelled 64,000 aggregated miles to get to their destination.  That’s an intense transportation and logistics process!  The research shed a bright light, like a flashlight in a power outage, on an existing out-of-control system.

I would like to propose a lighthearted game intended to acknowledge choices in your buying decisions that deliberately reduce food miles.  For instance, next time you choose to buy fresh New England apples, instead of conventionally offered ones typically from the Pacific Northwest, Chile or even New Zealand, “Google” the miles that you “saved” by choosing a local apple (click here for an addicting international distance calculator).  From the 05601 zip code, I would “save” 3002, 5348, and 8366 miles, respectively, by choosing a local apple!  I haven’t yet calculated how much fuel was actually conserved or how much carbon did not enter the atmosphere, but for those of you more ambitious types, this is un-chartered territory.  Let me know what you come up with!

There is also an economic incentive to make yours a local purchase when possible.  Spending our dollars locally keeps more money in the community.  I recently read a “tweet” from @MonadnockLocal that proclaimed “$s spent at local farms re-circulate up to 7 times, $s at market just over 2.  Support your local economy” (yes, in 140 spaces or less).

If we find small ways to substitute local foods for “64,000 mile tacos”, we can make unassuming and unseen actions yield substantive and impactful rewards!