Friday, April 17, 2009
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle pt. 1
Like The Omnivore's Dilemma that I read with my bookclub last year, this book, by Barbara Kingsolver and family, proved to be both extremely informative and fascinating. For me it was quite a page-turner. I discussed the book this week with two different bookclubs. I have decided to post a couple blogs with highlights from the book that need to be shared with a wider audience. If this blog resonates with you, please post a link to it on your own blog or email a link to it to your friends.
Kingsolver makes a great argument for eating food that is in-season (as does the LDS Word of Wisdom) and produced locally.
"Pushing a refrigerated green vegetable from one end of the earth to another is, let's face it, a bizarre use of fuel. But there's a simpler reason to pass up off-season asparagus: it's inferior.
It's hard to reduce our modern complex of food choices to unifying principals, but this is one that generally works: eating home-cooked meals from whole, in-season ingredients obtained from the most local source available is eating well, in every sense. Good for the habitat, good for the body.
I am not sure how so many Americans came to believe only our wealthy are capable of honoring a food aesthetic. Anyone who thinks so should have a gander at the kitchens of working-class immigrants from India, Mexico, anywhere really. Cooking at home is cheaper than buying packaged foods or restaurant meals of comparable quality.
Buying goods from local businesses rather than national chains generates about three times as much money for your local economy. Studies from all over the country agree on that, even while consumers keep buying at chain stores, and fretting that the downtown blocks of cute mom-and-pop venues are turning into a ghost town. Today's bargain always seems to matter more."
I have started shopping differently since reading this book. I have recommitted to buying only cage-free eggs (not "free range") and trying to get more of my meat from local, grass-fed sources. I have also made a point of asking if my grocery store is carrying any local produce every time I go. I want to support local farmers and make green houses a more normal, affordable thing in an area with such a short growing season. I did not join a CSA this year (the one that I joined last year only delivers in Park City and the one that delivers in Heber is significantly more expensive) but I have committed myself to shopping at the local farmer's market all summer.
Tod Murphy, owner of The Farmer's Diner in Vermont, which buys everything it sells from businesses within an hour's drive (except for their fair-trade, organic coffee) says, "We have the illusion of consumer freedom, but we've sacrificed our community life for the pleasure of purchasing lots of cheap stuff. Making and moving all that stuff can be destructive: child labor in foreign lands, acid rain in the Northeast, depleted farmland, communities where the big economic engine is crystal meth. We often have the form of liberty, but not the substance. If every restaurant got just ten percent of its food from local farmers the infrastructure of corporate food would collapse."