We live in a bright, if somewhat detached, future. In just about any city, 365 days a year, snow or desert heat, you can buy a pineapple. Not canned…an actual tropical pineapple fruit from across the globe, in your hand. It’s amazing when you think about it. Behind the scenes, it takes an army to get that pineapple (or any other peculiar food) to you alive…inordinate energy and labor, and all that entails. So tasty, but it does give one pause.
Consider the benefits of locally-grown fruits and vegetables sold at farmers’ markets, produce stands and smaller independent grocers:
- Vine-ripened foods taste amazing, so much more flavorful than canned, frozen or store-shelf ripened. If you’ve ever wondered “why are tomatoes considered a fruit?”, now you’ll know. Sweetness and flavor!
- Local growers often have nifty varieties too delicate for industrial-scale agriculture and distribution. Flavors, colors, sizes and shapes you seldom see at big grocers. Romanesco broccoli looks exactly like 1990s computer graphics.
- Fewer middlemen means farm workers have a better chance for a living wage.
- A lower carbon footprint as your food arrives from a nearby county rather than four states away, and with less processing, packaging and waste.
Not to push an agenda — let’s be practical, pineapple is delicious, among other fruits and veggies you might otherwise miss year ’round. The notion is to prioritize local seasonal selections, for some good reasons above, then round out anything else during routine grocery trips.
Okay then, how to start? It’s not just about what can grow locally, but when? Without freezers or cans, just fresh off the land, your options change throughout the year. Meal planning suddenly isn’t so simple. This knowledge goes back generations…we’ve started with data from the venerable Farmers’ Almanac and fully automated it. Punch in your location and MagTag keeps track of the seasons and offers suggestions. High tech, but pragmatic.
The MagTag starter kit includes an e-ink development board, LiPoly battery and magnetic feet…bring-your-own USB type A to type C cable. Or the individual pieces can be rounded up separately…
- WiFi network (802.11 b/g/n)
- A desktop or laptop computer is required for initial setup: any text editor will suffice
- An Adafruit IO account. If you’ve previously purchased from Adafruit and created an account, this is automagic (and free)!