Eating seasonally: extremist?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


There was an article yesterday on MSNBC about being a ‘locavore’ - it focused very much on the issue of eating locally grown foods as an act of environmentalism (from the standpoint of reducing your carbon footprint), and also referred to it as “extremist”.  I can’t really say that I care for that.  What is extremist about wanting to eat what’s in season?  What is extremist about wanting to support local farmers or the local economy?  Is it really that far out to be concerned about the safety of your food, especially at a time when commercial grown tomatoes going through the usual gigundo processing facilities are making people sick in over a dozen states?

Hilariously, the article is called “Extreme Consumerism”.

Recently, however, a small but devoted number of Americans have started to think a lot more about the origin of the food going into their grocery cart. Worried about the environmental impact of shipping food hundreds of miles, plus the dwindling fate of local farmers - and obsessed with the idea of eating really good food - these extreme eaters try to only buy food that is grown within a 100-mile radius of their own home.

Whoa.  Since when is being obsessed with “really good food” an extremist act?  When I think of extremes in food, I think of kids who will only eat white food…or people who only eat fruit…or dieters who adhere to things like the “Jelly Bean Diet” or the “Grapefruit Diet”...or anorexics.  But people who don’t want to eat shitty food?  Yeah, that doesn’t seem extremist.  An act of rebellion, perhaps, but not extremist.

Why an act of rebellion?  Well, being concerned about pesticides and genetic engineering and humanely raised meat to the point of doing something about it is sort of outside the mainstream, I guess.  And opting out of grocery store purchases as much as possible is certainly a way of voting with your dollars.  And hey, I like the idea of being a rebel just because I happen to like uber-fresh food grown by someone I have personally met.  Let’s all be rebels!  Rebels with a cause! I like it!

Not only are we “extremists”, we’re also unrealistic.

Among locavore proponents, one popular pastime is the “eat local challenge,” in which participants try, usually for one month, to eat only food that comes from within their community. The rest of the year, many locavores are more realistic about the limits of their devotion.

Oh dear.  Another extremist and unrealistic activity is preserving food.  Yes, that’s right, we are “forced to take on domestic efforts that most families haven’t tackled for generations”.  Those “domestic efforts” are canning food and freezing food.  And if you have a root cellar, you might as well stop using deodorant and run around with patchouli stank because you are even worse than the rest of us crazy food jihadists.

Oh, and don’t forget all that running around we do to find our local foodstuffs and the outrageous amounts of money we pay for the privilege of eating locally.  I guess now wouldn’t be the time to mention that I travel to exactly one place usually to get my food, and that my CSA box runs about $25 per week and I usually end up freezing about half of it for Winter….so it really ends up being about $10.60 per week for the whole year.  Sure, pastured meat is more expensive than commercially produced stuff, but when weighed against the produce savings, I very much doubt I’m paying more than the average, non-locavore consumer.  I may even be paying less and I’m eating better.  But hey, I’m just an extremist with an unrealistic lifestyle.  What would I know?




Posted by Nicole on 06/11 at 07:20 AM

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Support a local farmer, crave the freshest produce, worry about what's in or on your food - whatever your reason for eating locally grown and produced food in the Philadelphia area, Farm to Philly is probably writing about it. We're focused on where to find it, how to grow it, and what to do with it!

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