January 6, 2008

The Local Food Movement

The local food movement is emerging as the one of the hottest trends. It seems like everywhere you look there are books, articles and TV programs on how cool local food has become (not to mention the smaller carbon footprint and positive impact on the environment). I enjoyed the definition of the local food movement on Wikipedia: "Collaborative effort to build more locally based, self-reliant food economies - one in which sustainable food production, processing, distribution and consumption is integrated to enhance the economic, environmental and social health of a particular place and is considered to be a part of the broader sustainability movement." On the other hand, searching the Web, I found an interesting comment from Tom Tomich, director of the University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, saying that a food item that is local doesn’t necessarily mean that it is better, environmentally speaking. The distance that food travels from farm to plate is certainly important, he says, but so is how food is packaged, how it is grown, how it is processed and how it is transported to market.

In Brazil, the 'feira de rua' (the equivalent to a farmers' market set up on a specific street in every neighborhood once a week) is an institution that embodies the local food movement. The experience is not only about the food. Walking through a feira is a colorful, flavorful and very sociable experience for Brazilian gatekeepers since stall owners are the ultimate salespeople using amazing communication skills to sell their produce (some even resorting to poetry and song).

Here in São Paulo, there's an even larger temple of local food and it's called the Mercado Municipal - a beautiful building built in 1932 with 12,600 m2 of the very best of Brazilian food. If you're looking for a Brazilian local food experience, you can't miss it.

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