This is the season for all kinds of Alaskan berries, but it is definitely the time for raspberries. Picking (and eating) in our garden the other day I realized that raspberries are the perfect food to showcase the state of our food system.
First of all, just like I wonder why everyone doesn’t grow as much of their own food as possible, I wonder why everyone doesn’t grow raspberries. I’m kind of an idealist in this area — I would love to see everyone’s food security handled at the local level so that no family is at the whim of economic fluctuations or market factors.
In the case of raspberries, they’re so easy. They take almost no tending and come back on their own every year. You don’t even need to weed them, just harvest their sweet goodness. Why wouldn’t you grow them?
Just like many foods in our food system, growing your own isn’t always possible. One of the reasons might be that your home is at an altitude where raspberries survive but they just don’t thrive. That is a perfect example of why the Natural Resources Conservation Service, or NRCS, high-tunnel cost-share program has become so popular in our region. High tunnels let us control our climate and therefore our food production.
But it is still quite easy to go down to Safeway and buy some raspberries right off the shelf. Sure, they may have been sprayed with chemicals or grown halfway around the world. Alhough you may not want to depend on that system, it is easy. And, as with so many aspects of our food system, we have inadvertently come to depend on it.
Which is why I smile when I see families sharing a dish of fresh raspberries at the Homer Farmers Market. Listening to music, talking to friends in the sun, supporting local farm businesses — that is the food system I want to see thriving.
So even if you do grow your own raspberries (cheers to you!), head on down to the Market on Ocean Drive from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays and from 2-6 p.m. Wednesdays to support the part of our food system that is local, sustainable, and necessary.
Kyra Wagner is the coordinator of Sustainable Homer and the Homer Farmers Market’s biggest fan.