Adventures in cooking sustainably, healthfully, and locally

Until Dave puts the kybosh on it anyway.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Dilemma? How Sweet It Is

I find myself constantly furrowing my brow at some of my purchases, wondering how strict I should be in my definition of "home grown." Sure, the homemade BBQ sauce given to us is homemade... but not home grown. If anything, the brown sugar most often used in such sauces is made of plain ol' white sugar and molasses.

Before today, I always assumed that sugar was absolutely impossible to buy locally, and for the most part I am right. No sugar cane here. However, the U.S. is a major player in the sugar market and not just as a consumer. We produce sugar cane derived sugar out of Florida. During my bits of research I also discovered the existence of sugar beets and how it is also a source of sugar. Texas happens to be a producer of the stuff too. Huh.

According to Google:

  • 799 miles = distance between Dallas, TX and Denver, CO.

  • 1867 miles = distance between Orlando, FL and Denver, CO.

That's a difference of 1068 miles. On a car that gets 30 miles to the gallon (and I know I'm being generous here), that is 35.6 gallons of gas. If we go by $2.75 per gallon, that's $97.90. For as much sugar as you can stuff into a 2009 Subaru Outback.

What about molasses? Comes from cane sugar and sugar beets, for the most part. But I think I can get around the whole molasses thing by substituting in maple syrup or honey. Not sure if that's the same though.

What is a gingerbread cookie without that unmistakable molasses hint?

Why does it even matter to me?

This is the crux of it all, and I'm glad I'm sharing this with all of you because maybe some of you can offer up something I just can't think of right now. Maybe my gingerbread cookie are your flour tortillas or bananas or figs or -insert food here that isn't grown anywhere near you but you can't imagine living without- .

So I ask again: What is enough? What is enough for me to look at my practices and say, "Yes, this is practical and economical and it isn't taking a toll on what I consider a great quality of life."

Or maybe I should stop thinking so much about the particulars of the thing and just sit back and enjoy the adventure of it all, the sense of discovery in my own backyard. Then, before I know it, I'll stand up amidst the sustainable chaos in my culinary life and go, "Oh. So *that's* enough."

Hrm. Now I want a gingerbread cookie. Curses!


  1. I think you made me want a gingerbread cookie as well! And I don't even like them.

  2. Hon - we use the 80/20 rule...some other thoughts on it...
    Okay those articles don't relate to local foods per se, but IMHO the principles are applicable here. If 80% of your food is local, then 20% could be from wherever! Another thought - most research says that eating local is not necessarily as eco-friendly as just skipping meat one day a week. I'm no authority, but I have read tons of stuff about all this and feel like I'm a few steps ahead of you. Please don't mistake my comments as judgement of you or as you must do what guru Mel says...=) B/c I'm certainly not intending them that way. I am so excited for you and hope to help if I can!! Our house follows an 80/20 rule but in summer it seems it gets off track and goes to more like 50/50! But hey, summer up here is only like 6 weeks anyway...!! I will email you more if you want to hear more about our journey...just let me know! Good luck finding a balance for your house...

  3. That's cool, Mel. Thanks for the links! It's somewhere to start in terms of goals and then watch for the Ah ha! moment when everything feels right. Know what I mean?

  4. Thank you for the great email regarding Colorado Easy Eats local baking products.
    Your blog is exactly my inspiration for sourcing and making these ingredients available! Replacing your flour and sugar with local organic will make that pie chart of yours look a lot more tasty!