It's increasingly trendy to speak of food deserts: Blighted places -- often inner-city neighborhoods -- where fresh, nutritious food is hard to find. But what about eating sustainably in a place where desert is more than just a metaphor?
Las Vegas is perhaps the last place on the planet you'd expect to find anyone attempting to practice the locavore lifestyle. It's the kind of city, after all, where restaurants brazenly tout their 'locally caught salmon' knowing full well that the closest ocean lies more than 300 miles away.
But there's evidence that times are a-changing. 60 miles north of Las Vegas, Quail Hollow Farm has launched a CSA membership program offering spring, summer, and winter share subscriptions featuring more than 30 different vegetable crops. Farmer Laura Bledsoe offers Las Vegas-area pickup locations for city-dwellers who don't want to make the trek to her Moapa Valley farm. (If you're interested in a day trip from Sin City, the farm is located in Overton just 15 miles from the north end of Lake Mead.)
Last fall, the Las Vegas Review-Journal Living section featured a front-page story on chefs seeking out local purveyors, and farmers attempting to create a market for their produce. Although the Las Vegas Valleys extreme temperatures well over 100° in the summer and occasionally below freezing in winter make large-scale farming nearly impossible, the nearby valleys of Southern Nevada can support a wide variety of carefully selected crops. University of Nevada cooperative extension specialists are working with folks interested in raising "everything from natural beef and pheasants to vegetables and fruit", right within shouting distance of the neon and nightlife.
It's probably safe to say that anyone living in Las Vegas isn't a hard-core environmentalist; the earth-shattering ecological impact of this city is pretty hard to ignore. But even those who aren't quite ready to pull up stakes and move to a more eco-sensitive climate can now make small changes to their eating habits.
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