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Lip service or action?

Wednesday's stories about eating food grown close to home (see story) provide excellent examples of idealism and good intentions bumping up against reality.

I know. I've been there.

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I've always considered myself a supporter of buying locally grown produce whenever possible. I ignore grapes from Chile and tomatoes from Mexico. My husband and I patronize a farmers' market in Boston weekly during the summer months. And I have plenty of stories about stocking up on blueberries, peaches, and muscadines at pick-your-own farms in the South.

I could also mention the delight I always felt when visiting a small-town post office on a Saturday morning to discover a man in the parking lot offering quarts of honey (for $3!) from "his" bees.

Still, there's the time we were living in Europe. One spring day after our first winter there, we were shopping in an outdoor market. It had been a miserably cold, dark winter and when I saw ripe, red strawberries, I had to buy a pint - even though they cost a fortune, having been flown in all the way from California.

The memory inspires some guilt, but I've never enjoyed strawberries more. They tasted of spring - and of home.

While I'm feeling guilty, I also wonder whether my support of small farmers is empathy and love of fresh food or if it's selfish: I'd far rather drive by productive farmland than one more subdivision, which is what usually springs up when the farmer retires.

It makes me feel better to read in this section that I'm not the only one who professes to buy locally, but doesn't always. Still, if you'll excuse me, I need to go and find that list I saved of area farm stands and markets.