Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sustainable Saturday-When Is Local Not Local?

When is local not local?

Syracuse, New York, is about an hour and ten minutes north of us here in the Binghamton, New York area.  To our delight, some Syracuse local food companies are starting to expand into our area.

 But, exactly where does "local" begin?
(Incidentally, I am not getting reimbursed in any way for blogging about these products - just to get THAT out of the way.)

Today, in a local supermarket (chain headquartered in upstate New York) someone was sampling Pastabilities Spicy Hot Tomato Oil.  From a co worker who lives near Syracuse, I know that this has been around for many years, and is produced by a Syracuse restaurant.    So today, I got to try it and... it's yummy.  And spicy, but not in a bad way. isn't made in Syracuse.  Not any more. It's made in Massachusetts, which is even further away than Syracuse. Sigh.

My co-worker told me to try a different product, something called Cheeky Monkey. (This product is a tomato/garlic dipping oil-apparently, a competitor of the oil I sampled today.) Now THAT, she assured me, is locally made.  It is also sold in the year round CNY Regional Market in Syracuse, which she assures me is well worth the drive.

But, it isn't sold here.  And, I haven't tried it.  So, I'm faced once again with the Local Food Problem:
Local product, local creators, sold here but outsourced somewhere else?
Or, local product that really is locally made but isn't available here, and I would either have to make a 1 hour journey each way, or buy mail order?

While I was mulling over the dueling tomato oil dips, I ran across a NY made pasta at the local Binghamton winter farmers market.  Flour City Pasta looks to be a high quality product, and is made using heirloom grain varieties. The Winter Farmers Market promises that all goods sold have a NY connection.  But New York is a large state.   The problem?  It is made near Rochester, a good two and a half hour drive away from us.  I must admit I passed on it - it was not cheap. what point does local not become local?  I wish I had a good answer for that.

Do you have any thoughts on what defines "truly local" food?

Now, I have a couple of announcements.

The next Sustainable Saturday post will be this Wednesday.  After that, since I am participating in a two week long Author's blog challenge starting March 1, my Sustainable Saturday feature (and Winter Wednesday) will go on hiatus until after March 15.  To fans of my features, I apologize, and hope you enjoy what I will be doing in March (which may include some "best of's") until I get back to my regular schedule after March 15.


  1. I love local food produce, as I live in the countryside we have plenty! The spicy tomato oil sounds delicious!

    1. It is delicious, Sophie. It is! But, since I am on Weight Watchers, something I can only have one taste of.

  2. What in the world is CHEEKY MONKEY?? People with enquiring minds want to know!

    1. Cheeky Monkey is a tomato-garlic dipping oil made in the Syracuse, NY area. I should have explained that a little better and I am adding a link directly to their website. Thank you for your enquiring mind!

  3. For us in NZ, local is considered the entire country since we are so small.

    1. I just looked it up and New Zealand is just a little smaller than our entire state of Oregon. Oregon is our 9th largest state. New York is 27th,of 50, a bit less than half the square mileage of New Zealand. At any rate, definitions of "local" here differ substantially, depending on who you are talking to.

  4. To me, local is within a 20 minute (or less) drive. If I had to drive an hour to get to a restaurant, I'll pass.

    If I can order the food and have it delivered, well now - that's a different story! :)

  5. Hello, everyone!
    This is Leah, owner of Cheeky Monkey Foods, and proud producer of the elixir that IS Tomato-Garlic Dipping Oil!
    Thank you for your interest in sustainable and locally-produced's a passion of ours.
    Our tomato oil is now in 160+ outlets, and we also have a retail storefront in Destiny / Carousel Mall.
    Last year, when faced with the prospect of either having our oil produced out-of-state or keeping it local, we opted to bite the bullet, build our own little factory, and start churning it out where we have control over the entire production process.
    It has definitely been the right decision for us.
    Our Tomato-Garlic Dipping Oil has NO preservatives or artificial ANYTHING, unlike the labels, folks!
    Please visit our website ( ) to see where it may be purchased in your area. Also, we ship....EVERYWHERE in the continental U.S.
    To those of you that have already commented, please email me ( ) with your mailing address and I would be happy to send you a sample of our product, along with a jar of our new oil that will be rolling out in the very near future.
    Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. love love love your product....this stuff is absolutely addicting !!!!

  6. Oh, and by the way, my husband is British, and is the brains behind the name "Cheeky Monkey". In many European parlances, a "cheeky monkey" is someone who may be flippantly witty, possibly with a bit of mischievousness thrown in.

    Perfection in ingredients.
    Perfection in production.
    It defines Cheeky Monkey Foods.

    Thank you again!


Your comments sustain me, as long as they are civil, are on topic, and do not contain profanity, advertising of any kind, links or spam. Any messages not meeting these criteria will immediately be composted, and my flowers will enjoy their contents.