Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The localtarian mantra and San Diego coffee roasters

A general understanding in the localtarian community is that there are certain things not grown regionally in which you can still partake - without any attached guilt - as long as you purchase them responsibly and, preferably, through a local importer. Chocolate, for instance. Or spices. Tea. Coffee.

The main localtarian mantra floating about goes like this:
If not locally produced, then organic.
If not organic, then family farm.
If not family farm, then local business.
If not local business, then fair trade.

If this little diddy makes you roll your eyes and throw up your hands in frustration, join the club. I've had to read it again and again to make sure I understood exactly what is going on, and on any given day, still can't remember the order. 

Here's my translation : Know where your food comes from and then go forth and purchase those items that are produced by people who care about improving the long-term state of the world's environment, economy, and people.

How you define improving the general state..." is entirely a dependent on your personal political, cultural, and social values, which makes this whole localtarian thing such a debatable subject in the press and otherwheres. 

This is a lovely way to go about eating! You are able to eat what you'd like and still smugly give yourself a pat on the back for looking out for the environment, economy, and fellow earth-dwellers. Pleasure is a wonderful motivator.

Because of the above mantra, I've included in my Eat Local Directory not only items that have been grown and produced locally, but also those that have been processed locally but originated elsewhere. Not being a coffee drinker myself, coffee has not been included on the directory up to this point, but thankfully reader Eric noticed this missing item and willingly provided this list of local coffee roasters (forgive me, Eric, for taking so long to post this.) Most of these roasters provide a fair trade, organic, or shade-grown option.

New World Coffee (no website. 1602 Front Street, San Diego, CA. Tel: 619.231.6313
Pannikan Coffee and Tea (no website. downtown location, 675 G Street, San Diego, CA. Tel: 619.239.7891)

If you'd like to learn more about the environmental and human effects of the coffee industry and the distinctions between fair-trade, organic, and shade-grown, watch the documentary "Black Gold" or check out this site.

Do you have a favorite roaster or see anyone missing from the list above? Please let me know!


Dennis Stein said...

Hi Melanie,

I found this place on-line but have never been there so can't confirm anything for you.

I'm working on coffee sourcing myself right now! Going to check out that movie tonight and follow up with some questions to people. We might not be able to grow beans here, but I do wonder about tea... There was some chamomile growing on one of the farms we visited so some of those tea leafy greens must be possible.

Anyways, thanks for the great blog!

Melanie Lytle said...

Elena - Thanks for the link! I hope you'll share what you've found once you've made your decision for the restaurant!

Local tea would be GREAT! I'm a black tea drinker myself (have my two mugs a day), but have considered switching to a caffeine-free, herb variety.