Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Is it Wise to Eat Local?

I often shop at the big supermarket called Euromax out on the autostrada. It's inconvenient to drive there since the traffic is often a mess (although now that the new overpass is open it is MUCH better), and it is a bit far away. Plus I not only have to shop there, but I also find myself stopping at several other supermarkets just to find the basics I need in the kitchen. Things have become a lot easier in the 3.5 years we have lived here in Tirana. In the beginning there were no large supermarkets and it was often really difficult to find good fresh food. Now it is rather easy and you can almost always find what you're looking for, sometimes even things which you'd never expect.
Now there's an interesting challenge out in the blogosphere. It happens in October and it's called the Eat Local Challenge. I'd love to participate BUT- and it's a big BUT- it's virtually impossible to know if what I'm buying is really truly locally grown or produced. I actually asked Euromax to please start labelling the produce signs with the country of origin, but nothing changed. So who knows where they came from?? It's disturbing don't you agree? What if all the produce came from China? Would you be comfortable with that? Not I.
But then again-- is local produce really that trustworthy here in Albania?? Friends say it must be kind of organic since local farmers don't have the money to spend on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. That may be so, but what about the residual toxic wastes that must be in the soil especially around Elbasan where a lot of produce is grown? I'm not sure local is a better choice in the end! What to do??
And so I can't really take part in a challenge that I think is a good idea even though I'd like to try. I've decided to do it in my own little way. I'll ask where it is from when I buy fresh produce and hope for the best. At least when I can, I'll choose local and hope for the best.

7 comments:

Diane Mandy said...

I remember the fresh spinach E. coli crisis in the U.S. last year, organically grown with "natural fertilizers." SO I guess it goes without saying organic isn't always better and when you live in a country where there is residual toxic wastes. Continue to be careful!

oreneta said...

It's a lot easier to do here in Spain, that's for sure.....and most of it is probably reasonably safe...what a boon. And how sad that we feel we have to say it.

Ll.T. said...

My very unoriginal advice on the issue is that if it looks all nice, clean and shiny, then it isn't local :)

Islandgirl said...

I really like your blog about your every day experiences. It is very helpful for prepping me for my move to Tirana next summer.
Thanks.

Paul said...

The case of eating locally raised food is a tough one. I think your intent and efforts are admirable!

Kyriakos said...

I think a big supermarket is highly probable to have products from China or where ever. Personally I prefer the open market just east of Skandeberg square where I suppose locals bring their own goods. At least judging from the taste of it their quality is much better than Greece where chemical fertilizers are being used for years now. Be brave and give it a try. The people selling are also very nice.

Raúl said...

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