Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Splendid Table's "Locavore Nation"

On the way back from driving the rest of my family to the airport early this frigid morning (-11 F. on one digital display we passed -- they were happily on their way to Disney World for a few days), I turned on MPR to find that The Splendid Table has a 6 a.m. airing on Sunday mornings. Not a fact I'd ever had occasion to learn before. Anyway, the show has launched a project called Locavore Nation: "A year-long effort to discover what it takes to obtain, prepare and eat a sustainable, regionally based diet." Something like 5000 listeners across the country have signed on for a challenge to eat mostly local, in-season, preferably organic food for 12 months; 15 of these will blog about it. Minneapolis blogger Sareen Dunleavy Keenan made me smile with her account of buying half a cow (organically raised and grass-fed) from friends in Illinois; the beef car-pooled the 460 miles to their home with a student heading for the U of M, making efficient use of food miles. (Hmmm, I should have the Florida-goers bring back some citrus for me.)

I want to clarify something I wrote in my last post, Extreme Eating, Glocavores, Luddites and More: "I don't think everyone should eat only foods produced within 100 miles of home; I think we should support important regional products that we value, whether they're from our own region or elsewhere." As I hope was reasonably clear, I've got no objection to anyone's deciding that they want to eat only foods produced within 100 miles of home. What I meant is that I don't accept that as a universal goal, to be urged upon everyone. Eat more locally? Yes, absolutely. Eat only locally? Certainly, if you want, but consider the potential negative repercussions of that decision as well as the positive ones. Strike a thoughtful balance, making food choices (or other choices with an environmental, economic or cultural impact) intentionally rather than purely out of habit? That's where I'm trying to be.

As Wendell Berry put it:
Eaters ... must understand that eating takes place inescapably in the world, that it is inescapably an agricultural act, and that how we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used. This is a simple way of describing a relationship that is inexpressibly complex. To eat responsibly is to understand and enact, so far as one can, this complex relationship.... Eating with the fullest pleasure -- pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance -- is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world.
"The Pleasures of Eating" from WHAT ARE PEOPLE FOR? Copyright © 1990 by Wendell Berry.


Scott said...

I love eating locally as much as I can. The co-op now has local hydroponic lettuce! It's an event when there's winter local produce!

Oh, and after reading your site for all this time, I finally placed a link to your blog on The Center for Sustainable Living's website!

-Scott Schumacher

Penelope said...

Thanks for the tip about the lettuce and for the link! As I've written before, I am so grateful for our wonderful co-op. I will definitely stop in for some local lettuce.