I would imagine being a locavore is pretty in Israel, right? When your country is just under 300 miles long, 85 miles wide, and most of the population lives roughly in the middle of the country, almost the entire country is within a 100-mile radius.
Does Israel import a lot of food? I would think that would be the only serious hurdle unless you live in the extreme north or south.
Israel does import a lot of food. I would like to know more about the subject, but the little information I found in newspapers is that close to 80% of our foodstuffs are imported (maybe my Net searches weren’t precise enough, but I found almost nothing there). For one example, we do have flour mills, but the wheat is imported. For another, all dried pulses and grains come from abroad.
We can choose locally grown fruit and veg, both fresh and frozen, honey, poultry and eggs, milk products (tons of those), some preserved and canned foods, some beef and lamb, some fish, some spices. There’s more, of course, but this is what I can remember, off the top of the hat.
There is ample transportation, and you can get whatever you need in markets from the Golan down to Eilat.
As I’m writing, I’m mentally breaking down today’s lunch into imported and exported. Let’s see: turkey wings (local) braised in leeks, tomatoes, onions (all local), garlic (local, because I buy 10 kgs. green garlic each spring and dry it; otherwise I’d have to rely on imported), wine (home-made from local grapes, but the wine yeast was imported), salt (local), pepper (imported), tamari (imported), sage (home-grown), thyme (local). Then there’s rice (imported). Broccoli and mushrooms – local. Olive oil for cooking – local.
You see here that the fresh stuff is Israeli and the dry or fermented depends on imports. If I were to go to a bakery and buy a few sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts), I’m not at all sure what percent of the ingredients would be local. I am assuming that the ingredients, bought cheapest in bulk, are imported. The flour: imported wheat. The yeast: imported dry, although we do make fresh. The jelly: I’m guessing imported. The oil in which they were fried: imported soy or canola.
Heck, even the cranberry-walnut muffins I baked this morning couldn’t be done without imported ingredients. I’ve had to ask myself if I should stop baking, which is silly. Of course I’ll keep baking, but since discovering how heavily my baking depends on imports, I take more care to recycle anything that goes stale. Half a pan of cornbread became stuffing for peppers and fish – like that.
Israelis are turning more and more to fast, convenient, packaged foods. At this time of year, the supermarket dedicates an entire aisle to instant soups and noodle/ rice meals to which you only need add hot water (yich). The freezer section is loaded with imported fish, meat, fruit and veg, right there next to the local. Not to mention the omnipresent soy patties, which are feeding a whole generation of kids whose mothers are too busy to cook real food. These foods are, I estimate, at least 80% import-dependent.
(I have a particular grudge against those soy patties, in spite of all their “healthy” vegetable additions. First, the soy is imported and, if reports are correct, genetically modified. Then, two nine-year-old girls I know of have developed adult-sized breasts, and their pediatricians blame this on heavy consumption of soy “shnitzels”. The only soy I allow in my family’s diet is fermented: tamari and miso. No soy shnitzels, no soy milk, not even tofu. But I’ll stop this rant and return to the subject at hand.)
You can reduce dependence on imported foodstuffs here if you shop consciously. Depends on your priorities. If it comes to choosing between Spanish olive oil or local; Norwegian salmon or one of our Israeli fish, you know what I’m buying.