Monday, December 10, 2012

Meatless Monday: Win-Win Holiday Shopping

I’ll never be hardcore enough to forgo holiday gifting. I’m not crafty enough nor do I have the time on my hands to make all my presents. 

I skipped the Black Friday (November 23) madness and started my holiday shopping by patronizing Small Business Saturday© (November 24), making a small contribution to the total of $5.5 billion U.S. consumers spent with independent merchants on that day.   

Alas, that was not enough, and, at this late hour, I still have more shopping to do.

I have one more trick up my sleeve — the gift of favorite foods. I have found several sites which may be of help. LocalHarvest, located in Santa Cruz, CA, was founded in 1998 by activist and software engineer Guillermo Payet. Here you can locate produce and other agricultural items (think honey, soaps, and wool products) in your area AND shop online for items not available locally or for items you may want to send as gifts. I described this site in great detail in a post dated last December

There is no middle man. Each item you order directly benefits small farmers who have products to ship and sell every day of the year. A gift purchased from a small farmer is revenue which provides benefits directly to the community in which the farmer lives.  

Another useful guide for those living in southern New England is FarmFresh, an online farm guide which will help you locate fresh produce and farm stands by zip code. In most cases you will have to visit the farm market or stand to make your purchase. 

At the high end of the gifting scale is Slow Food USA’s US Ark of Taste, “a catalog of over 200  delicious foods in danger of extinction.” Here you can discover products ranging from Traditional Sea Salt from Hawaii to American Rye Whiskey. It’s fun to browse these pages even if you can’t afford to purchase them.

Remember, a gift of a favorite food is a gift which will not be wasted. A purchase from these sources is a win all around. 

I often blog on food or food issues on Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal  health and the health of our planet.”

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