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We’re returning to our roots | Wally's World

Like most of you, I do nearly all my grocery shopping in the local grocery stores. I’ll continue to do this even though – given the pesticides, preservatives, genetic engineering, color additives, growth hormones and a host of other chemicals – no one is sure what we’re actually eating or what the long-term consequences might be. Perhaps a handful of chemists and agronomy graduate students might have some idea, but you can’t trust them because they’re beholden to government grants and politicians.

Take, for example, a typical grocery store apple. It has additives to make it redder, chemicals that make it bruise resistant and manipulated genes that make it grow larger, not to mention pesticide residue. It’s harvested long before it’s ripe and may have been refrigerated for many months. Often, it doesn’t taste like much of anything, but no one seems to care about this.   (Just compare its taste to an apple you pick in your backyard.)

And how about supermarket chickens? In most cases, they’re so pumped full of chemicals they can hardly walk. But then, they don’t have to because each one spends its entire life in a foot-square box. (In the not-to-distant future, I suspect sound scientific research will prove American chickens are unfit for human consumption.)

This rather unsettling backdrop has given rise to the organic food movement and the desire for local products that are fresher and more environmentally friendly since they aren’t created in a chemical bath and aren’t transported here from halfway around the world. This, in turn, has inspired Kari and Kyle Diercks to open Mountain Aire Mercantile.

Nearly everything in their store is natural or organic and most of it is certified. Almost everything is produced in western Washington, much of it on the Plateau. (There are some obvious exceptions, like coffee.) Strawberries, apples, blueberries and other fruits are grown on farms and orchards in our region. Natural cheeses come from Port Townsend and Seattle.   Eggs come from local, free-range chickens. Many of the wines are produced from organic grapes that are fermented and bottled in western Washington. Similarly, there are organic beers – whoever heard of such a thing? – and local micro-brews.   Household cleaning products are made with natural ingredients, void of harsh chemicals. The same can be said of personal hygiene goods like soaps, toothpaste and lotions.

The deli and espresso bar offer homemade soups, pastries and sandwiches with natural, chemical-free ingredients on gluten-free bread. (I’m not even sure what gluten is, but “gluten-free” seems to be a an important feature of the store’s inventory.)   There’s a selection of natural sodas designed to give you a buzz without the caffeine such beverages usually have.

Anyway, about 30 years ago, the commodities market started trucking watermelons out of southern Mexico to all parts of North America. Can you image enjoying watermelon at your Thanksgiving dinner? How novel.

Novel as that may be, today the winds of change are blowing back toward our great-grandparents. You know what they say:   what goes around, comes around.

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