So, here's the irony. We had to travel to Minneapolis to dine on meat that had been grown and produced within 30 miles of our home. While there are a number of good dining establishments in and around Alexandria, not one of them offers its patrons locally grown grass-fed beef or "free-range" chickens. Not only are we not able to enjoy the occasional well prepared dinner of locally grown food, we're exporting our best products!
This is not unique to meat either. Our wonderful farmers market basically has 7 vendors that show up on a regular basis. For a city of this size, that's pretty small. Again, the irony is that we basically live in an area that produces food for the rest of the state, country, world but we're unable to readily obtain locally grown meats and vegetables whereas someone living in St. Paul or Minneapolis can. I think this just demonstrates how broken our food system really is right now. Farmers in this area are basically forced to grow corn and soy beans on an industrialized scale to make a living, albeit a highly subsidized living. Those who are willing to be environmentally and socially responsible by growing a variety of vegetables and meats are forced to sell their products in larger markets and to higher-end restaurants to make ends meet. These folks don't get the subsidies that their "bigger n better" neighbors do either. We need to rediscover our local economies, particularly when it comes to food. Not only does it make sense environmentally and socially, it just tastes better!