Friday, March 2, 2007

Eating Local

I'm almost finished reading Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma, and I'm feelin' it--the dilemma, that is. (Yes, I realize I'm about a year behind the rest of the planet in reading this.)

The "Omnivore's Dilemma," for Pollan, is that since we have learned to alter the natural cycles of food and food production--through chemistry, through technology, and through transportation--we are in a constant dither about what's really good for us, what we really should be eating. In the absence of a historic national cuisine, Americans are left to the whims of the latest scientific study, the latest products, the latest trends, in order to figure out what to eat.

Instead of simplifying our diets, the modern world has made eating very, very complicated.

So last week, I decided to try and eat local, at least within reason for someone living in an urban area who works full-time and tries to maintain two blogs : )

There's quite a flap between Pollan and Whole Foods. First, Pollan chastises Whole Foods for talking the talk but not walking the walk. Whole Foods chief John Mackey has issued numerous responses in his own blog, admitting that Whole Foods could do a better job of buying local but stands by Whole Foods' practice of buying organic and then using fossil fuels to ship it to the USA or buying organic from large, industrialized organic producers in the USA and shipping it to the stores.

So just buying at Whole Foods wouldn't help me buy local. Thus, off I went to the farmer's market.

What can I buy at the farmer's market in late February? Much to my surprise, there were early strawberries. I love strawberries. So I picked up a couple of pints, which I could eat with some cream from a local dairy. They also had milk and butter, which I passed on but might try later. There was a peanut grower, but I can't digest peanuts--believe me, you don't want the details. I got some cabbage and some broccoli and some spinach that I was assured were grown without pesticides. There was a big selection of grass-fed beef and some wild catfish.

There was also the lady selling killer homemade pies--peach and apple and pecan--but I gave her wide berth, sadly.

That was about it for my shopping this week. It's pricey, but probably no moreso than Whole Foods. Of course the prices at Whole Foods is what has kept me out of there for the most part, except to buy pimiento cheese--the best in the world.

Will all this be healthier? Will it help the environment? Should I limit what I eat to what I can find grown locally? I guess it's the omnivore's dilemma.

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