My mouth, my tongue, and my heart remind me what my mind too often forgets.
This quote is from Coming Home to Eat by Gary Paul Nahban. It’s the story of a man, who spends one year trying to eat only foods grown, fished, or gathered within two hundred miles of his home. I came across this book in a little independent bookstore in a small town in New Hampshire a few summers ago. I read it in a week and realized that although I had been a proponent of organics for many years, I had never really thought about my “foodshed” or politics of food.
I was enthralled by the story of finding cactus fruits, and local tortillas. Many exotic, at least to me here in the northeast, foods were described that opened my eyes to the plethora of what world creates. And while I don’t think I’m quite ready to completely sustain on what my two hands can cultivate (especially in a small apartment), the concept of eating locally has stayed with me.
The recently I stumbled across the Locavores website. They are launching an “Eat Local Challenge”. This August, a group of concerned culinary adventurers invite others in an effort to eat only foods grown or harvested within a 100 mile radius of San Francisco for an entire month. While not in San Francisco, other foodies have taken up the challenge, including a few fellow Jerseyans.
So I’m in. I have yet to define my rules as far as what I can’t live without, but can’t get locally, nor do I know details on how I will be held accountable, but I’m a willing and eager participant.
So until I set my own rules, here are a few general guidelines I like to live by when it comes to my food.
If not ORGANIC or LOCALLY PRODUCED, then Family farm. When faced with Kraft or Cabot cheeses, Cabot, a dairy co-op in Vermont, is the better choice. Supporting family farms helps to keep food processing decisions out of the hands of corporate conglomeration.
If not FAMILY FARM, then Local business. Basics like coffee and bread make buying local difficult. Try a local coffee shop or bakery to keep your food dollar close to home.
If not a LOCAL BUSINESS, then Terroir, which means 'taste of the Earth'. Purchase foods famous for the region they are grown in and support the agriculture that produces your favorite non-local foods such as Brie cheese from Brie, France or parmesan cheese from Parma, Italy.