Saturday, September 22, 2007

Think globally, eat locally

In case you haven't figured it out yet, my plan is to start posting regularly on this blog, so come one come all and comment!

Today, I want to start a series of posts on the phenomenon of eating locally raised food. I first happened across this movement while doing research for a paper on grocery shopping last year. A review in the excellent magazine Books and Culture called it "The New Organic." The basic idea is to promote sustainable agriculture by only consuming food grown locally. Novelist Barbara Kingsolver has written a book about her family's experience trying a local diet, and a recent article in The New Yorker (can't find it online) described the author's attempt to eat only food raised within the five boroughs of New York.

My initial reactions to the idea were simultaneous attraction and repulsion. On the one hand, I'm fascinated by the simplicity, the near asceticism, of a local diet. It can be seen as an experiment in creative anachronism, a return to premodern strategies, like the project at St. John's University to create an illuminated Bible using the materials available to medieval monks. It would be an amazingly educational experience; one would learn a great deal about agriculture, local geography and ecology, and the history of food preparation.

On the other hand, having already learned a little about the history of food, I'm very grateful for the things I eat that are grown elsewhere. Living as far north as I do, I envision winter meals consisting of onions, parsnips, and old potatoes.

What do you think? Are you similarly intrigued and repulsed? I am particularly interested in what Special K has to say, as she is our resident Kingsolver fan/ecologically minded citizen.

1 comment:

Special K said...

I love this idea, but I also lament giving up my beloved pineapples. In the summer months I do pretty well by intentionally frequenting the farmers' markets every weekend, but those winters do get rough, both for biking and harvesting reasons. That said, I've looked into grow lights for plants, in which case pineapples could become a reality of my own living room. Although I don't have the time nor money to invest in such novelties, I have definitely been more conscious of where my foods come from, the kinds and amounts of resources used to get them to me, and who is actually benefiting from my consumption. I try to make my purchasing decisions based on these factors, both in food and in other products.

I'm excited for Kingsolver's newest book, but have no idea when I'll have the time to read it. Next on my list is The Omnivore's Dilemma, and I'm thinking that might have to wait until Christmas.