Friday, December 07, 2007
Somehow I missed that New Oxford American Dictionary word of the year was recently declared “locavore”.
“The word ‘locavore’ shows how food-lovers can enjoy what they eat while still appreciating the impact they have on the environment,” said Ben Zimmer, editor for American dictionaries at Oxford University Press. “It’s significant in that it brings together eating and ecology in a new way.”
Well, that’s nice to hear. Apparently, those of us who strive to find and eat locally grown food, support local farms, etc. have arrived. Kookookachoo.
Of course, there’s nothing like media attention to muddy the waters. Philadelphia Inquirer writer Rick Nichols wrote a column full of confusion and angst over what being a locavore means. Bemoaning the fact that the Ardmore Farmer’s Market has stands that sell things that aren’t local in the slightest, Nichols feels overwrought. “Do you quit them for organic apples from Washington state? Or what if you’re into heritage turkeys?” he wonders. “Do you snub ones from a top-rate Kansas farmer who needs to ship nationally to maintain old breeds?”
Who thinks this hard about what they eat? I’m as committed as the next person who supports the local foodshed, but I don’t have these existential crises. For starters, non-organic isn’t necessarily worse for you than certified organic. You only need to understand a little bit about sustainable growing practices to know that many small farmers can’t afford to go certified organic…but those same small farmers are practicing uncertified organic and sustainable growing practices. And I’ll take those any day over an organic apple grown in Washington on a corporate organic farm. Nichols really misses the point - it’s not about organic or even eating the most ethically: it’s about knowing where you’re getting your food from. It’s about knowing something about the farmers and knowing what goes into your food’s production.
I’m sure that there are some people who are in it for the holier than thou bragging rights it can generate. Most of us are in it to support local farmers, or maybe because we’re concerned with food safety.
And then, finally, Nichols closes with this:
Well…maybe if you’re a locavore with poor planning skills. He’s obviously never met any of Farm to Philly writers - most of us have a freezer and pantry full of local produce that’s been put up for the Winter. Winter, a dilemma? Hardly! There’s plenty of ripe local produce if you take the time to look - apples, squash, parsnips, cabbage, brussels sprouts, carrots, collards…broccoli and cauliflower….celery and potatoes…mushrooms…spinach and leeks! I would call that plentiful. And when combined with what’s been put up in my freezer and pantry, I’m eating as well as I would in Summer. And I’m certainly not eating any less local foods.
Which is of some solace. It can be lonely being a locavore, validated in word, tested in deed: The times may be ripe, but the local produce isn’t.
The locavore’s dilemma? Winter.
Thanks to reader Lauren for the tip on the editorial!
Posted by Nicole on 12/07 at 10:28 AM