Thursday, April 19, 2007

The April 18th Chronicle food section features locavore!

The cover story profiles several people, some seasoned locavores, some not, and their joys/struggles to eat exclusively local foods. The articles were published in anticipation of the coming Pennywise Eat Local Challenge week, April 22-29. Challenge participants pledge to eat foods produce no further than a 100-mile radius from where they live, and to do it on a budget ( information at eatlocalchallenge.org ).

The articles were fun to read and offered some useful information (such as the name of local producers of specific food items), and a few suggested recipes. You can check them out at http://www.sfgate.com/food/
It also seems to be part of a much-welcomed Chronicle series titled Food Conscious.

A big theme of the writing was the Quixotic nature of eating strictly local. All the people profiled had to work hard not to contaminate their food supply with excess carbon emissions. They had to know more, pay more, travel more (and to more places) to adhere to their eating principles. One couple used foraging as a strategy for staying within bounds and on budget. All of them expressed some guilt when they indulged in any outsider treat. They sounded just like serial-dieters who can’t control themselves.

Where was the joy of exploring our foodscape? Where was the fun of meeting your local producers and visiting farms? The author did not ask the most basic question anyone would ask someone fighting such odds: Why do you believe in eating local foods?

Not that it should come as a surprise to any of us, but doesn’t it seem topsy-turvy that it is such an upstream swim against spring runoff to supply yourself locally? I don’t want to misrepresent this point either. Much of the upstreamness of locavoring comes from our predilection for a varied diet chock full of exotic flavors. Many of these come from products that, like vanilla and coffee, cannot or should not be produced in our foodshed.

However, for many of us bordering locavores, this is our main dilemma: with our already busy and complicated lives, how can we invest the extra time, effort, and expense to go exclusively local? My take is to forget the guilt – some conscious locavoring is better than none. In time as more of us join the ranks, at any level, it will become easier.

And as for the foraging, the author included two useful references: “Flavors of Home”, by Margit Roos-Collins, Heyday Books, 1990 and “America Eats”, by Nelson Algren and David E. Schoonover, University of Iowa Press, 1992.

Producers mentioned in the articles:

Old Mill Farm

Zuckerman's Farm
Spring Hill Cheese Co.
Eatwell Farm
Little Organic Farm
Point Reyes Farmstead
Clover Stornetta
Gowan’s Apple Farm

Mendo Bistro is in Ft. Bragg and is owned by one of the couples profiled in the articles, Nicholas Petti and Jaimi Parsons.

2 comments:

Rebecca Greco said...

Hey, Francisco-- Here is my first blog entry ever. I love your site-- such a vital topic-- and felt similarly about the SF Chronicle story-- I found it joyless.

Just received my biweekly farm Fresh to You box and feasted on spinach. A sweet surprise in the box this time was a small bouquet of flowers. I highly recommend box delivery and love the surprise element and variablity.
love and fine springtime eating to you,
Rebecca

Nicholas Petti said...

The joyless part was trying to stay within the budget of the average American $9.71 per day which was really the thrust of the article.

Everyone who participated already eats locally or runs their business with lots of local ingredients, and we do it joyfully. Doing it on $3.35 per meal was difficult, hence the tone of the article.