April 10, 2006

Thanksgiving in May -- Thoughts on Eating Locally

I'm not a particularly political person, at least not in the traditional sense.

Sure, I have opinions.

I read, and I vote.

Actually, voting's probably the extent of my "public" political expression, to date. Despite my proximity to Berkeley and a four-year stint in Eugene Oregon for college, I've never attended a protest or a political rally (or college football game, but I digress... that's another story). I've never participated in a strike (except outside my high school library when we were kicked out for making too much noise as seniors, but again, that's another story.)

And while I've certainly taken my share of leadership opportunities in my professional and personal life, I've abstained from those parts of leadership that are the most politically charged.

So why then am I choosing to join over 700 others from around the bay, the country, the world in a quest to "eat locally" for the month of May? And making that challenge public by writing about it here?

I've spent a lot of time thinking about it, and the short answer is that there IS no short answer -- there are a lot of factors driving my desire to do this. But when I push myself to come up with the short answer, it all comes down to education. I have no idea what impact, if any, my decisions over the next thirty days will have on my community, my world. But as sure as I breathe, I know I will learn from the experience.

I suspect I'm going to gain a newfound appreciation for all I have and have access to... both in my local foodshed and through interstate commerce and import. While I'm not going to obsess about this -- we'll eat out with friends and I will not interrogate my hosts about how they procure their food -- I do expect I'll make some sacrifices. If nothing else, I'll miss the supermarket sushi that becomes my grab-on-the-go lunch when I hit the snooze bar once too often and don't have time to make lunch at home. And ramen noodles when I get home late and just want something fast and warm. And weekends at the deli after the farmer's market.

I also expect I'll eat well... the bay area is home to some pretty exceptional produce, dairy and seafood. And some web surfing in preparation for my challenge indicates that poultry, beef and pork aren't out of the question.

And with any luck, reducing my dependence on processed, packaged foods will reduce my waistline. Hey, I can dream...

I'll also appreciate everything that's available to me through more modern commerce. We live in an amazing era. We're a mouse-click away from curries from India, vanilla from Madagascar, cheeses and meats from all over Europe, sweet onions from Georgia, chiles from Mexico... I think we lose sight of that. I know I do. My ancestors had no such luxury -- "imported" Italian cheeses were those brought from the "old country" wrapped carefully among the linens in their luggage.

So while I don't know exactly what I'm getting into with this challenge -- where I'll struggle, what I'll crave and not find locally -- I am looking forward to the journey and the lessons it will teach me.


Ivonne said...

Looking forward to reading about how you meet the challenge! I too am participating. It should be a fun month.