Saturday, September 29, 2007

Freegans and Frugality

I'm belatedly reading this week's Newsweek, having been on a business trip the last several days. There are two stories -- a first-person account and a companion article -- about living the "freegan" life, a term that was new to me. Freegan (vegan + free) describes people who essentially step off the consumerist grid to minimize their ecological footprint. Reporter Raina Kelley kept a diary of a month in which:
I would be a vegan who bought nothing but local and/or organic food. I would use only ecofriendly transportation, cut my electricity bill in half and erase my carbon footprint. My mantra would be "recyle, reuse, renew," while never forgetting to reflect on my impact on the Earth before acting. ... That's tough work for an eBay-loving, omnivorous, cigarette-smoking shopaholic. ...

The American way of life has to change if we want to do something about global warming. But it's not [easy]. It's time-consuming, confusing and infuriating. I was doing fine, living my little piece of the American Dream, and now the inconvenient truth is that I feel bad about it. ...

I haven't been the same since I pitched this story. I see waste everywhere. I feel guilty about everything--doing my laundry, spending a day at the mall, leaving my computer on at night, relaxing in the shower, BUYING FOOD AT THE GROCERY STORE. How can absolutely everything I've been taught to do to survive be wrong?
Kelley's Freegan Girl blog recounts her whole month. She staggers to the end of the experiment describing herself as only a step away from losing her mind, but comes out of the experience with a new dedication to moderation and a list of workable ways in which to be part of the solution.

The companion article by Jerry Adler compares the freegan movement to the "Utopian and religious communities, ... hermits, mendicants and holy fools who have been rejecting the corrupting influence of civilization since it was invented." He acknowledges the validity of their critique of the excesses and wastefulness of postindustrial consumerist culture, but suggests that the world's poor would be better off if we contribute to our economy and share our surplus wealth with them, rather than "competing with them for it." Ouch.

Freegan goals remind me of much of the frugal-living advice found in two books that helped me through several years of raising a family on a single income when I was staying home with my girls when they were young -- compilations of what used to be a monthly newsletter called The Tightwad Gazette, written by Amy Dacyczyn. Our Depression-raised parents or grandparents, too, have always known that it was possible to reuse that aluminum foil, take the bus or walk, repair that lamp, get the last teaspoonful of ketchup from that bottle, or scrape the burnt bits off our toast. Frugal, minimal-impact living isn't new, but it may feel new and particularly meaningful to a generation that is doubly conscious of its comfortable upbringing and the need to make lifestyle alterations for environmental reasons.

Later in the same issue of Newsweek is an article about the recent spate of what might be considered "my year of self-deprivation" books, like Barbara Kingsolver's local-food adventure, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and A.J. Jacobs' The Year of Living Biblically, in which the author chronicles his year-long attempt to follow every mandate in the Bible. The article's author suggests that the popularity of such books implies that we're such an affluent society that only by taking choices away can we find meaningful direction or bring order to our modern, messy lives. I can certainly find some resonance in that thought. Having been raised in a necessarily frugal household myself, I can't imagine finding satisfaction in a life that's driven by showy spending.

My own current financial constraints (I have a good job, I hasten to add, but considerable obligations as well) lead me to live a life that avoids most consumer excesses, but I well know that the pressures of time and convenience lead me to make choices I wouldn't want held up as a public example of best sustainability practices.

Here, then, is my contribution to frugal living for the next month: I'm going to live as much as possible on what is already in my cupboards, refrigerator and freezer, finding ways to use those cans and packages and bags of rice and flour that my gaze always passes over as I decide what's for dinner. As Amy Dacyczyn noted in those Tightwad articles, the typical family can, with care, make a quicker, bigger difference to their food spending than in almost any other area -- by relying less on highly processed or pre-prepared foods, buying ingredients in bulk, and cooking simple dishes from scratch. And in a month where finances are particularly tight, living off what you've already got on hand for a period of time can make a real difference to the bottom line (and, if it means making food last longer by not eating quite so much of it, the size of the bottom). Having looked at my checkbook (ack!) and stepped on the scale (aacckkk!), I find this would be a perfect time to address both issues.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Physicist Discusses Global Warming on MPR

Physicist and astronomer James Hansen, lead climate scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Study, was Gary Eichten's guest on MPR's Midmorning show yesterday. It was a very interesting and enlightening discussion. Hansen views coal-burning as the activity contributing most to global warming, explains why scientists can be virtually certain that human activity is leading to the global warming we are seeing (as evidenced in part by rapid melting of the arctic ice cover), and says that if coal-fired plants converted to carbon-sequestration technology we would not have much to worry about.

Read more and listen to the show here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Carbon Offsets & WindSource

Once in a while I travel by air. Quite a bit more often (read: just about every day) I take short trips in my aging, hail-battered little Honda Odyssey minivan (12 years old, 206,000+ miles, and keeps on ticking). I am a well-meaning person, and so I feel bad about the amount that I drive, but the reasons (helping a certain high school student get her 30-lb backpack, two musical instruments and a tennis racket to or from school; being able to run errands without a major investment of time; laziness; lack of a bicycle; dislike of being too hot or too cold or too wet; and so on -- the typical middle-class, middle-aged litany) don't go away. So I thought it was time to learn a bit more about purchasing carbon offsets.

For $36.95, I could buy a TerraPass that theoretically offsets 7,500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. (My share of the air travel I'm doing this year will add up to 4,700 pounds, according to the site's calculator -- and that's leaving out all the emissions of the trusty minivan.) Here's a link explaining how it supposedly works. Here's another, from another such site, Carbonfund. There are plenty of other offset services out there. Just google "carbon offsets" and you'll find a full array.

These services claim that their investment in the carbon-offsetting behaviors, whether reforestation or investing in clean energy sources or supporting energy-efficiency projects, are independently verified. That's probably increasingly likely to be true, but there is certainly room for unfulfilled promises here, profiting from the green guilt of people like me, who are willing to pay a few dollars here and there in the hopes of genuinely helping the environment. I plan to do my homework pretty carefully before I choose an offset service, but I think it's likely that I will choose one -- and I'll probably try to nudge my place of employment in that direction as well.

I also recently signed up with Xcel's WindSource program to have all my electricity usage support wind energy. This, I'm sure, does not mean that they magically funnel electricity directly from the wind turbines, and only from the wind turbines, to my little household, but it's a way of helping to develop more clean energy sources. (Ones, I hope, that are not in the usual paths of migratory birds.)

Do you have thoughts on programs like these? Worthy? Or merely greenwashing? I welcome your comments.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Gary Holthaus Speaks on Sustainable Farming -- and Sustainable Life

Last night at the Northfield Arts Guild I heard Gary Holthaus read to a full house from his recent book, From the Farm to the Table: What All Americans Need to Know about Agriculture, and talk about sustainability. I hadn't read much about him beforehand, and expected the talk to take a mostly narrative and informative tone. Had I done my homework, I would have known to expect quite a bit more: poetry and metaphor and the soft-spoken rage of a wise man of mature age.

The first chapter of his book, which he read aloud, says the ancients got it exactly right when they spoke of the four essential elements: earth (healthy soil), air, fire (sun), and water. All of these elements are essential for sustainable life on earth. "As any farmer knows, everything depends on them," he read. (We have, of course, sadly depleted and/or polluted three of the four.)

He went on after the reading to take questions and to discuss specifics like the nutritional and anti-erosional benefits of rotational grazing, and the practice of "agri-dumping" our government-subsidized corn and beans and cotton into other economies, while American multinationals peddle costly genetically modified seed, bringing prices down and costs up and putting thousands of small-scale local farmers out of business. In India, suicides by cotton farmers are epidemic, as a member of the audience pointed out.

In my additional research this morning, I learned that Holthaus is also the author recently of The Unauthorized Bible: Selected Readings by Gary Holthaus (The Boston Wesleyan Press, 2003). Here are excerpts from a press release on this book:

Holthaus tells near to life stories of real people experiencing modern times in short, sweet prose that is lyrical, universal, and visionary. He speaks tenderly of the Earth and exploited creatures, as those living beings suffering at the hands of global slumlords. He speaks through the voices of Old Testament prophets, of Jesus, of Lao-Tzu, of a Northwest Coast tribal elder, and of other wisdom figures, and what he says through them expresses pure, righteous anger.

The Unauthorized Bible is a social, economic, political and environmental critique of America’s powers and principalities. And, at its heart and in every voice, it roars a spiritual, humane and godly outrage over what is happening to our Earthly ecosystem and to "the poor of the land" (essentially most of humankind).

If someone were to ask Holthaus "by what authority" he writes these things, he would likely say that the condition of the Earth and its peoples are all the warrant he needs to propose an unauthorized reading of the Bible: a gospel of justice, environmental sustainability, inclusiveness, and universalism.

The gift of this book is that it stirs the heart to outrage. It will bring tears to your eyes and fill you with indignation and fury. The Unauthorized Bible will stir a social controversy because it shows us the results or our dismal performance in time and space. Holthaus, as most poets and prophets must, does this without the usual authorizations.

Gary Holthaus received an Individual Fellowship for Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1990. He has been a commercial fisherman in Alaska, a big-game guide in Montana, a wheat packer for Quaker Oats, a school teacher and worked "too long," he says, moving steel beams around for Iowa Steel and Iron Works.

The RC Blog has also reported on Holthaus's visit, and includes a podcast of the reading. The visit was sponsored by River City Books, the Arts Guild, and Just Food Co-op.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

More Adventures with Greens

A while back I wrote about my first experiences with chard. This week I've tried for the first time another of the dark, leafy greens: kale. The curly, firm-bodied leaves were too pretty to pass up at the co-op this weekend, and I chopped some up and added it to the fish chowder I was making. Absolutely wonderful -- how did I wait so long to discover how good this is? It keeps its body after cooking, rather than turning completely limp like spinach, so it added a nice texture as well as a good contrasting color to my soup, which is also filled with local yellow potatoes, carrots and squash. Kale is a member of the cabbage family, and I wondered if the chowder would take on a strong odor, but two days later it doesn't seem to have.

According to a Wikipedia entry, kale is among the most nutritious of vegetables, being high in beta carotene, vitamin C, lutein and zeaxanthin (which I've never even heard of before) and reasonably rich in calcium, and was the most common green vegetable in Europe until the end of the Middle Ages. I like it better than chard. It's going to be a new regular in my kitchen!

Find out How Many Earths It Would Take

I just played American Public Media's "Consumer Consequences" online game, which I heard mentioned on the show Marketplace. You answer questions about your lifestyle, energy use, eating habits, living space, etc., and the game keeps a running total of how many earths we'd need to sustain us if everyone lived as you do. Then you can compare your score (the total and in the various categories) to others who have played -- those from a particular state, or born in a particular year, who have a particular political affiliation, etc., as well as a few specific radio hosts.

My score was 3.6 earths. I do well in low garbage production, high rate of recycling, and low consumer consumption, but not so well as I'd like in how much I drive and a few other areas. The fact that I'm not a vegetarian (though I eat little meat) and I consume dairy products increases my footprint, while the fact that I try to choose predominantly local or organic foods counteracts that to some extent. I scored quite similarly to those born the same year I was. I achieved a noticeably lower score than Krista Tippett (host of "Speaking of Faith"), however!

Visual by

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Update to Maltby post

I wrote an addendum to my Maltby Nature Preserve post with a guess as to the identity of the butterfly.

It's Honey Crisp time

Posted by Picasa
After our outing to Maltby today, we headed over to the Fireside Orchard & Gardens on Hwy 19 and tasted quite a few varieties of apples in the refrigerated Apple Room. The Haralsons and Honey Crisps are fantastic, as are a few others whose names escape me at the moment. In the interests of local eating, I bought a bag of premium Honey Crisps, a half-gallon of fresh cider, and a jar of seedless blackberry jam (the jam's from Lodi, Wisconsin).

The roses outside were looking lovely, and the bees were enjoying them too -- there seemed to be a bee on or in almost every blossom, like this beauty. (Click on photo for larger version.)
Posted by Picasa

A Walk at Maltby Nature Preserve

Can anyone identify this butterfly?*

My sweetie Dave and I decided to take part of this lovely September morning to explore Maltby Nature Preserve, located northeast of Northfield, near Randolph. Shortly after I started this blog I got a call from Katherine McBride, who works there, inviting me to check out this local nature area, home to the Science Center for P-12 education. It's not prominently signposted, and is easiest to find by heading west on Sciota Trail (302nd St.) from Hwy 56, north of Hwy 19. We had the place to ourselves and strolled down well-maintained and mostly well-signposted mulched trails through woodland, around a pond, and over to a lookout point over the Cannon River. We saw a couple of woodpeckers and a goldfinch, but it was a slow day for birdwatching. The trails are laid out nicely so that people -- perhaps those with young children -- who just want a 10-minute walk can have it and those who want to stroll for 45 minutes can do that. View a slideshow below, or click to enlarge the album.

*Addendum: After some exploration of butterfly sites, I'd venture a guess that this butterfly is an Eastern Comma.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Good Conversation about Local Groceries

Hop on over to Locally Grown to follow an interesting conversation comparing shopper's experiences at Just Food Coop vs. Econofoods vs. Cub.

First Frost

Yesterday my desktop weather icon started flashing red to indicate a weather alert: a frost warning had been issued for a large swath of Minnesota. My backyard container garden of tomatoes and cucumbers has been looking wan and played-out lately anyway, but I've still been picking smallish fruit now and then and have hopes for a small continued harvest for another few weeks. So, along with many others last night. I hauled out sheets to cover the tender plants. This morning, though I couldn't see any signs of frost myself, my daughter on the phone from her dad's house (bubbling over with excitement at the thought of her first rehearsal with the Minnesota Youth Symphonies this morning in St. Paul) said there was a coating of frost on their grass that looked like a light snowfall.

Over my morning mug of tea, I finished the book Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally, by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, who spent a year eating food almost entirely from within a 100-mile radius of their British Columbia home. That put me in the mood for the farmers market. The sun was shining, the air was crisp, and my mood soared as I put on a sweater and light jacket and wondered vaguely where my gloves might be. I know people who sadden at the onset of fall because it is the first harbinger of winter, but I come alive with the cooler air. Fall is my favorite season. As I drove to the ATM to get money for the market, the First National Bank thermometer read 35 and I sang aloud to "Tiny Dancer" on the radio.

At the farmers market, it was clear that fall had arrived. I haven't been there for a couple of weeks or more. The winter squashes -- both edible and ornamental -- were everywhere. Late, partially green tomatoes and green peppers had clearly been picked in quantity yesterday to escape the ruining frost. I overheard Gary Vosejpka of Thorn Crest Farm saying he'd covered 1000 feet of young beans with tarps, looking ahead to more warm weather and hoping yet to bring those beans to harvest. That's a lot of tarps, and a lot of work.

For my $16 spent today, I came away with several large potatoes, a container of good-sized carrots and a big bunch of much smaller ones with greens attached, a loaf of freshly baked basil-and-garlic bread, a bunch of leeks, a large butternut squash, a large pattypan type squash, and a bag of tender-looking green beans. I've already trimmed and scrubbed the little carrots; they and some potatoes and leeks will go into a fish stew for dinner. Ah, the pleasure of being in the kitchen again after avoiding baking and long-simmering preparations for the past several months. Welcome, fall.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Harvest Festival this Saturday 12-4

Just Food Coop is holding a Harvest Festival, open to all, this Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. Their notice about the event announces:

Attendees can enjoy the live music of Bill McGrath & Ed Frost, Ozark Asher & Ann, Multe, and the Artech African Drummers. Tasty and free local food samples will be available, including Thousand Hills beef, Lofton Ridge bison, Brick Oven bread, Pastureland cheese and butter, Angie's Kettle Corn, Open Hands Farm soup, and more. Plus, visit with other local farmers whose products you can find at Just Food.

Other activities not to be missed include henna tattooing by the Northfield Union of Youth, a composting information table, the chance to reserve your plot in the Northfield Community Gardens for next year, and a kid's table where kids of all ages can get crafty!
I plan to be there!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Having Fun with Library Thing

Thanks to a link from Rob Hardy's excellent blog, Rough Draft, I've discovered Library Thing. It's a highly addictive web-based service that lets you quickly select and enter books that you own, often in the exact edition you own, and often with cover art. From there you can rate, tag and review your books, find others who share your literary tastes, and create fun blog widgets (see my sidebar, near the bottom of the page, which generates a random list of four books at a time from my library).
I've been startled to discover just how many editions there are of many books -- sometimes dozens. Sometimes I've been able to find mine and sometimes not; you can upload your own cover image and I've done that in a few cases. The default search engines are Amazon and the Library of Congress, but you can access many others, like university libraries, for specialized titles.

Many of my books are in boxes these days, and I'm not going to begin to try to list all the paperback mysteries I own. The books I've entered so far are among my favorites, which is why they are out and accessible, and also why I've rated almost all of them highly.

It occurs to me that I've been building up to this blog for a long time in how I've organized my books. For the past six years, at least, I've had a special bookcase that holds all my books on gardening, cooking, birds, other nature guides, and most of my memoirs (I particularly collect travel and gardening memoir). I've slowly realized that that is the place of honor for any new book of mine.

Anyway, many of those favorite books, and quite a few more, are now in my catalog at Library Thing.

My Excellent Breakfast

My mostly local breakfast today is still making me smile. Here it is in cookbook format:

  • 2 local red potatoes, finely diced
  • 1/3 of a largish local zucchini, coarsely shredded with grater
  • a handful of organic baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
  • a couple of basil leaves and a few puny threads of green onion (picked from my overplanted, under-watered windowsill herb pots), chopped
  • 5 eggs (in this case Litchfield, MN-based Sparboe Farms cage free brown plus Omega 3 eggs), beaten
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat a couple of tablespoons of canola or olive oil in large nonstick skillet. Fry potatoes, stirring frequently, until lightly browning and almost fork-tender. Add shredded zucchini; sauté until it has lost most of its excess moisture and is starting to brown. Add spinach and herbs. Sauté until spinach is bright green and mixture smells fragrant. Season eggs with a little salt and pepper to your liking and add to pan; stir until eggs are just set.

Serve with any condiments of choice and thick, toasted and buttered slices of Naturally Northfield multigrain sourdough from the Brick Oven bakery. Yummers.

Makes 2 ample servings.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Quote of the Week: From Michael Perry's "Truck"

One of the best books I've read this year is Michael Perry's Truck: A Love Story, described in a cover blurb from USA Today as "a delightful, quirky account of a year in a mid-American life spent restoring a 1951 International Harvester, cultivating a garden, and falling in love." Perry lives in New Auburn, Wisconsin, and, after years of writing for magazines (some of his articles and essays -- which I'd call a mixed bunch -- have been collected in volumes such as Big Rigs, Elvis & the Grand Dragon Wayne and Off Main Street), he made a decent splash in 2002 with his book Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time, which I also loved. I like Perry best when he loses the verbal attitude that was probably a requirement for some of the magazine pieces, and writes compellingly -- sometimes hilariously, often with a sense of the sacred -- about small-town life.

My quote of the week comes from a passage in which Perry gathers herbs and green onions from his struggling garden, chops them with lots of garlic, mixes in olive oil, red wine, and lime or lemon juice, and after letting the mixture sit at room temperate until lunchtime adds fresh-ground black pepper and grated parmesan. He calls this bruschetta, but serves it stirred into angel-hair pasta, rather than atop the traditional grilled or toasted slices of crusty bread, so perhaps we might consider it more a mixed-herb pesto. An edited version of the rest of this passage appears in my sidebar; here's a slightly fuller version:
I eat in my favorite spot, the big green chair in the living room beside the bookcase with a view through the screen to Main Street. I can't imagine a finer moment than to be here in this old chair with this fresh alive food in my lap, all the greenness and the garlic and the sounds of the day easing through the screen on the back of a breeze. ... There is something about listening to a day through a screen that infuses the moment, as if the steel mesh slows the day down, lets us bathe in it a bit more. A screen seems to filter the harshness from the outside noises and they reach your ear softened. It will be best if the sound is coming to you over a varnished wooden floor decorated with a strip of sunlight; the flat surface, however artificially imposed, is reassuring in the face of entropy and has the added advantage of being made from trees and blessed by light. It is exquisite to sit here in this perfect moment, eating food that I -- a black-thumb gardener -- have coaxed from seed to fork. I am humbled that in the face of all chaos, I should have this plain, priceless moment.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Another Fox Sighting

More fox sightings in Northfield: My friend Mary has posted a comment to my Fox on Woodley Street post to report that she saw a fox on Hall Avenue at midday yesterday. Please share your interesting wildlife sightings with me! I'd love to know what people happen to see as they go about their daily lives.

Big Business Organic

While browsing another local-foodie blog, Dirt to Dish (written by Katherine Gray, who has posted comments here) , I came across a reference to an enlightening chart showing the huge multi-nationals that own some of our most familiar organic brands. Santa Cruz Organics? Owned by J.M. Smucker. Stonyfield Farm and Brown Cow yogurts? Owned by Dannon. Nantucket Nectars? Cadbury-Schweppes.

Organic has gone mainstream, finding its way into Wal-Mart, Target, and just about every other major grocery outlet. We read that supply is having a hard time keeping up with demand for organics (see my blog post from July, "Helping farmers make the switch to organic"). Is this good? Is it a great victory? Or is it a sell-out? Does it inevitably mean a deterioration of what organic really means if it's being supplied by big business?

Well, no... and yes. I have to think that on balance it means, at the very least, that more soil is being enriched and fewer pesticides are being used on our one and only planet than would be the case if organic hadn't gone mainstream. I think many of the supporters of organic farming always hoped it would become mainstream -- "the way food is grown," not just a tiny subculture.

And yet. There is a fear that when organic farming becomes big business, it loses something -- perhaps not the essentials (returning organic matter to the soil, avoiding chemical fertilizers and pesticides), but the sense -- perhaps an overly romantic one -- that organic gardening by its very nature should involve a commitment to place, to a particular soil, to a particular location, to a particular ecosystem and a particular community. When it's run, or at least owned, by billion-dollar corporations and its fruits are transported by carbon-and-particulate-matter-spewing trucks all over the nation, hemisphere or world... when production involves thousands of ill-paid farm laborers... when it's commodified on a global scale, that doesn't feel organic anymore. It's Big Food Conglomerate, not Hard-working Local Farmer committed to the health of his or her own patch of earth.

And yet. Big business is here to stay. Big business is vital to national economies. Big business can take, and I think should be praised for taking, steps toward improving its green credentials. Just because it's big business, it doesn't mean every action is cynical and heartless. It might in fact be, but if the results are a step in the right direction, that's still worth something.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Twin Cities Metro Dares You to Eat Local

"Eat Local. I Dare Ya." is the name of a recent article in Twin Cities Metropolitan that talks about the Eat Local Challenges taking place across the country this month and about why people become passionate about eating more locally. It's about having trust in your food producers. It's about reducing carbon emissions. It's about a relationship with the food you eat and attention to the way you eat it. And as the author, Mecca Bos-Williams, notes:
If you’re a statistical sort, there’s a wealth of facts, figures and numbers on why more people are choosing to eat locally. While these can certainly be compelling, they can’t hold a candle to just-picked heirloom tomatoes, still heavy in your hand with sun-tempered juices, heady on your tongue.
Thanks to my colleague Elin Odegaard for bringing the article to my attention!

Monday, September 3, 2007

A Local-enough Chicken in New York City

Caution: Vegetarians -- and others -- may find the following excerpt distasteful. As I have a streak that has always appreciated dark humor, it made me laugh out loud, I'm afraid.

The September 3 & 10 issue of The New Yorker (which I got a year's subscription to when I made a pledge to MPR last fall) is all about food. I haven't read all of it yet, but there's a piece by Calvin Trillin about the amazing street food to be found in Singapore, and one about Adam Gopnik's attempt to "eat local" within the five boroughs of New York City -- discovering spicy honey, tasting of sources like linden and gingko, from rooftop beehives; greens like wood sorrel (tastes just like lemonade, we discover) and purslane gathered in Central Park; fresh eggs from the City Chicken Project, run out of community gardens in the outer boroughs. Gopnik is not successful in his quest for a completely local chicken to eat -- the egg purveyor is horrified at the suggestion -- but stumbles upon a Bronx slaughterhouse where live chickens, lambs and goats await selection:
A few minutes later, a bag came out, with the chicken, still warm, cut up inside. It wasn't, of course, precisely the New York chicken that I had hoped for. It was an upstate chicken, most likely, that had come to town just for the hell of it, but its life cycle -- born elsewhere, arrived in hope, lived in cramped quarters, ended its New York existence violently and unexpectedly at the hands of someone with a fatal amount of money -- seemed to make its life local enough to qualify. I took it home to cook.