Joni Mitchell and 80’s hair band Cinderella may not have much in common; but they both knew that beauty is on the inside, and both sang, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”.

When the power went out in our neighbourhood last week, both the folk and metal versions of that old lament were in my head.

I am always struck by how hard-wired I have become to expect the power to always be there. Two hours into the outage and I was still flipping switches in vain when I walked into a room – even though I was holding a flashlight in my other hand.

You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

We are hard-wired the same way when it comes to our food system. We expect the food we eat to always be in the store, fresh plentiful and scrubbed of all traces of where it came from. And like the power in your house, it is very easy to take for granted how it came to be there.

SaskPower chocked the outage up to “aging infrastructure” – a nice way of saying that the system is outdated and needs to be replaced. I would make the same argument for the industrial food system.

It is time to upgrade the infrastructure – to rethink the way we feed ourselves.

Local & Fresh is a seed in the ground to build that new system…to strengthen the local food network by giving consumers more access and convenience when it comes eating local.

We are one month into the journey and so far the response has been fantastic. We are hearing great things about the convenience of the service, and most importantly the taste and quality of the food.

Last week my in-box was filled with comments like, “I can’t believe how much better this is!”, or “That’s what chicken used to taste like!”, but it was the Green Ranch Heirloom tomatoes that drew the most comment last week.

You would never ever see these tomatoes in a grocery store. They look like someone hit them with an ugly stick. I know that’s not true though, they couldn’t survive the ugly stick. They are too delicate.

They are not grown to be pretty. The variety was chosen for taste and nutrient value – not the ability to “look great” after a 3000 kilometre road trip from California or Mexico. I am not sure you can trust a tomato that looks that good after such a long trip. I flew home from Mexico, and looked a little worse for wear when I got off the plane.

As we start our second month of Local & Fresh, I want to thank the early adopters who have joined us so far, and encourage those who have yet to place an order to join us as we build a better way to eat. We have only just begun.

Andrew Rathwell – Owner, Local & Fresh

P.S. If you are interested in seeing some more fruits and vegetables that are hit with the ugly stick, check out this campaign in France called “The Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables”