Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Steamboat Springs Denver grocer Pete Marczyk gave the members of his Steamboat audience Wednesday night permission to “swirl their food” in the same way that they would taste a fine red wine.
“You have to educate your palate” in order to appreciate the benefits of shopping for locally produced food, Marczyk said.
Marczyk, whose family runs two neighborhood groceries in Denver, spoke during the second installment of this year’s Talking Green series, presented by the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.
Kale and spinach that have grown during the winter at Grant Family Farms near Wellington acquire a sweetness that has to be tasted to be believed, Marczyk said. In fact, the founder of Marczyk Fine Foods put the vegetables on a par with a limited-edition pinot noir wine from Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
Consumers who won’t give themselves permission to pay a little extra for great food puzzle Marczyk.
“We get to eat three times a day. It’s an essential experience,” he said. “To enjoy the texture, the feel, the flavor — we get to talk about the provenance of our food, and so many people won’t give themselves that pleasure because it seems in some ways (wrong) to spend $3 on broccoli. And why would you ever do that when there’s broccoli for $1.89?”
Quite the contrary, Marczyk said, he can’t understand why people fall for 99 cent pork at the supermarket when they can afford a $3 pork chop of such quality that it will enrich their daily lives.
But choosing to eat sustainably by purchasing locally produced food is about more than taste, Marczyk said. It also supports the local economy.
“What level of willingness do you have to take steps and make a difference?” Marczyk challenged his audience.
It strikes one as illogical, Marczyk observed, that zucchini squash produced thousands of miles away in Mexico, for instance, and is trucked to Colorado should cost less than squash grown at Grant Family Farms. The difference can be found in labor costs and the scale of production.
Smaller farms have to charge more to cover their costs, he said, but doing business with those farms turns dollars over in the local economy.
“That’s a choice that everybody here makes. It’s the most powerful voice in this country. Use it. Vote with your wallet,” Marczyk urged his audience. “When you make the choice to buy locally and spend your money directly with a farmer or supplier that’s local, that’s a huge sustainability impact. The multiplier is four times higher when you spend a dollar locally than when you don’t buy locally.”
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com