Coop has just come closer to home for those in the SLC downtown area. And I, for one, feel it is a happy trend. Urban and fringe agricultural areas all over the U.S. have been seeing an increase in small artisan farming operations teaming up with each other to provide convenient store fronts to locals. Salt Lake City has now joined in the game.
Rico Locals has opened up on 800 S. and 500 E., SLC. The founding vendors include empanadas, cheese, beef, a goat dairy, eggs, lamb, and Rico Brand mexican stuffs. Not too shabby. And I have to say that I really hope this sort of Urban farming and cooperative trend takes off. I sometimes wake in a cold sweat thinking about small, artisan farms being gobbled up by large, industrialized tenant farming outfits. I just don’t think that anyone can care better for the sustainability of farm lands than a small generational farm supported by local customers and a local market.
I can understand the thinking in globalizing agriculture, most of the time. But we have simply spent too long shirking the cost onto nature and the poor migrant worker. Could we do any worse by giving artisan farming a chance? Would it hurt us to know what is in our food and where it comes from? Would it be a bad thing to know the farmer by name even? Is it possibly worth the extra dollar per bushel of whatnot in order to pay less on health costs in the future? Is it smart to build cities in deserts too large to sustain themselves without getting the majority of their imports from hundreds of miles around? Or should we just live somewhere else?
Salt Lake City is already where it is. Probably not even water limitations will stop its growth. The economy here in the high-plains desert is actually still strong. The least we can do is start supporting the few individuals who are making a real effort to grow and eat local, and help the rest of us do the same. One less trip to Cafe Rio or Chili’s and I could easily afford to buy my products from small, local suppliers and farmers. Maybe then I wouldn’t be starting to lose my trim college waistline sitting her typing at my desk all day.