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Great Comment from Mimi Sheraton on locavores

This was in an interview at eater.com:

"I think the locavores should stay home, that they shouldn't fly back and forth, especially from California making big carbon footprints in the sky to speak to us about the importance of being local."

It made me laugh. The rest of the interview is here:

http://eater.com/archives/2011/01/18/...

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  1. Amen. And they should also be required to live on salted/preserved meat, root or canned vegetables (canned locally of course), and dried fruit for at least one Winter before being allowed to open their mouths in public...

    Needless to say, I'm all for people understanding where their food comes from and what producing it involves, let alone exercising at least a modicum of intelligence in their food choices, but that's got nothing to do with people yapping about the latest fads in their little corner of popular culture...

    1. I completely disagree with her on peaches. I used to live in SC. I remember going to my boyfriend's fathers peach orchard and picking a three napkin peach off the tree, eating it, tossing it, grabbing another. Those were the best peaches I've ever had. SC and GA peaches are amazing. When you're in SC or GA. I've been in IL for over 20 years now and I've yet to have a SC or GA peach that comes even close to that deliciousness and most of them just plain suck. Now, the peaches I picked from the local farm this summer? THey were heaven. Best peaches I've had for years. Nothing close to as good as a SC peach in SC, but a helluva lot better than a SC peach in IL.

      But don't mind me, I'm just yapping about the latest fad here in my corner of the world.

      11 Replies
      1. re: debbiel

        I think she agrees with you:
        "But if I were faced with a Pennsylvania peach or Georgia peach, I would take the Georgia peach every time"

        1. re: roxlet

          I would take the PA peach if I'm in PA; the GA peach if I'm in GA. Rarely would a GA peach taste better than a PA peach in PA.

          1. re: debbiel

            Sorry, I misread your comment. I get great peaches on LI in the summer that are better than anything I could get from GA, so you and I are in agreement. However, the peaches I get are from a farm stand, so they are picked when they're perfect. It's so cold here today that just thinking about them warms me up. Ah, summer! Ah, peaches!

            1. re: roxlet

              Agreed. A local peach is heaven. I was so thrilled this last year with the arrival of u-pick organic peaches ~7 miles from my house. It brought me back to those days in the SC orchard.

              Somehow thinking about the local butternut and sweet dumpling squashes I still have from November doesn't warm the soul quite as much. :)

              1. re: debbiel

                Nope, you're right, it doesn't.

            2. re: debbiel

              I grew up in GA and moved to CA in my late 20s. I think CA peaches are far better than GA peaches.

              1. re: c oliver

                And that's fine. But...if you were in GA, would you take a GA peach or a CA peach?

              2. re: debbiel

                There's a peach orchard literally hundreds of feet from my front door. And they have other produce that they sell a 1/2 mile down the street parked next to a garden center. BEST peaches I have ever had. I'm allergic and I still risk it. There's something oddly gratifying about eating food that local. :)

              3. re: roxlet

                PA peaches are great in PA. and in the summer, in my corner of the world, nothing is better than a fresh Jersey peach from Oak Grove Plantation in Pittstowm. :-D

              4. re: debbiel

                When it doesn't make economic nonsense, eating local foods when they're available and the quality is good (let alone superior) falls into my category of "using a modicum of intelligence in making food choices." I just don't see the need for pretending it's some fabulous new idea that no one (with a brain) has ever heard of before, let alone turning it into a Movement...

                1. re: MikeG

                  As many "localvores" as I know, none of them have talked as if it's something new. Most of them talk about going BACK to some extent. I never quite understand the backlash against people who have certain values about their food.

              5. Yes, and her comments about the "food truck" fad and where do you eat it??? Sounds alot like my cranky 84 year old mother used to sound. It's tough getting old.

                39 Replies
                1. re: sedimental

                  Maybe Sheraton and your Mom have seen it all before, no? I have no time for food nano-trends and the vapid hipsterism around the locavore schtick. Funny how I never see that type when and where local food's on offer in season in my area.

                  1. re: Kagemusha

                    Maybe they have..or at least...*they* think they have!

                    I embrace all these food trends (nano or not), locavore, sustainability, organics, molecular, slow foods, charcuterie, artisanal foods, etc. I love it all and learn from it all. As I age (now over the half century mark) I hope my interest in food and life stays fresh -and I remain open to changes and different ideas. I hope I never say something like "where the hell do they eat it"? When talking about food truck food....or like my mom would say "what are you looking at on the computer for so long"..."is there THAT much to see in there"? LOL

                    1. re: Kagemusha

                      I'm in my 40s and completely unhip. Live in a midwestern town. Try to eat locally. What schtick?

                      1. re: debbiel

                        Maybe they call it "schtick" if you are a wealthy Manhattan urbanite with limited access to real fresh food...the rest of the United States just considers shopping locally "smart grocery shopping"! LOL

                        1. re: sedimental

                          Except that "Manhattan urbanites" (are there any Manhattan dwellers who are somehow *not* urbanites?) can visit the city's many greenmarkets, which sell local products exclusively - access to "real fresh food" is not at all limited. I'm speaking as a non-wealthy person, though. Maybe you know something I don't, like that rich people aren't allowed to shop outside or whatever.

                          1. re: small h

                            I was also thinking about her comment about not wanting to go into Brooklyn because there were no restaurants there worth standing in line for. Maybe she actually does her own shopping? She seems to think that shopping local is a bad thing.

                            1. re: sedimental

                              She went on to say that she needs a damn good reason to go above 23rd Street, and then gave an example of one such damn good reason. Hence, the Brooklyn comment is not so much a swipe at Brooklyn as an expression of Sheraton's general unwillingness to spend too much time and effort going out to eat when she isn't sure she'll have a worthwhile experience. I think she's earned the right to have that attitude.

                              And I can't figure out what this has to do with my initial post. Can you enlighten me?

                              1. re: small h

                                I am not trying to argue with you. I am stating my opinion. The OP stated that s/he thought that Sheraton's comments were "Great". I disagree. I think Sheraton is an entitled ass, is "out of date", and it is discouraging to see someone in her position going out of her way to criticize the growing trend of eating more local and more fresh. This country needs to support local growers, eat healthier and eat better quality food at a decent price. It is a win-win. I think it's a shame that Sheraton chooses to use her celebrity in a negative way.

                                I am sure she eats whatever she wishes from far away and out of season. That is a benefit of being very wealthy or at least upper middle class. I don't discourage wealth! I have money to eat what I want/ when I want, as well. However, there are many in this country that cannot do that. So, I find her (and her comments) generally repulsive.

                                1. re: sedimental

                                  I think you are misinterpreting Sheraton rather drastically. She does not, to me, seem to be knocking local foods. She's saying she prefers to eat the best foods, be they local or otherwise. And she's throwing a bit of backhanded criticism at those who use "locavore" as a synonym for "virtuous." Like Alice Waters, as roxlet notes - correctly, I think - below.

                                2. re: small h

                                  Local is BAD...but I need a DAMN good reason to go above 23rd Street???? What a joke! Do you not see the irony?

                                  1. re: sedimental

                                    Nope. Nowhere does Sheraton say that local is bad. In fact, she says "I'm not a total locavore," meaning she is at least a semi-locavore.

                                    1. re: small h

                                      I suppose if you don't take her condescending comments (above) about people that attempt to promote local foods as "bad"...then, we can just disagree. I think her words convey pretty clearly where she stands on the subject.

                                      1. re: sedimental

                                        But that isn't what she's saying at all. I think you need to read the interview more carefully. She's implying that it's obnoxious to call yourself a locavore if you habitually fly cross country, since a couple of ears of local corn is not going to offset the jet fuel you consume.

                                        1. re: small h

                                          But that's a false argument anyway. It is not uncommon for vegetarians, vegans, locavores, etc. to be held to some bizarre standard of purism. Having an interest in supporting local food AND taking a plane does not make one a hypocrite. It makes one a person who supports local food and takes a plane trip. Why do I have to offset my jet fuel just because I want to get my chevre from the local cheese makers? And one can be concerned about the environment without going off the grid.

                                          All that said, if she was simply referring to Alice Waters, who drives me up a wall, I'm cool with the comments. :)

                                          1. re: debbiel

                                            I think she's referring to people like Alice Waters, if not Alice Waters herself.

                                            The first draft of my post, which I now see might have more clearly represented what I was trying to convey, was something like "it's obnoxious to call yourself a locavore, because you really aren't one, at least not if you drink coffee and eat salt and also live in the continental U.S., while at the same time sadly shaking your head at the poor misguided souls who don't meet your own personal standards of locavorism because they shop at supermarkets."

                                            But I thought that was too long.

                                            1. re: small h

                                              But most people I know who consider themselves locavores aren't talking about eating exclusively some 100 mile diet. There talking about focusing more, not only, on local foods. I drink tea and eat bananas and use olive oil. If I could get those things locally, I would. I can't, so I get them from far away. It's an approach to eating more locally, not an all or nothing stance. Are there some all or nothing folks out there? Sure, but I'm guessing they are few and far between. How many of these "locavore" people are really shaking their heads at "poor misguided souls"?

                                              1. re: debbiel

                                                We are drifting off topic. I joined this thread to counter sedimental's incorrect statement that people who live in Manhattan have "limited access to real fresh food" (a sad shake of the head if ever there was one). And once I read the Sheraton interview and determined that she had not really attacked the local food movement at all, I posted with my interpretation of what Sheraton meant (I'm going with "pretty much exactly what she said"). I have yet to offer my own actual opinion (here) on locavores or anything else.

                                          2. re: small h

                                            I get it. I think it is an obnoxious argument.
                                            I also think there are spokespeople for different food "movements" that are obnoxious, but the cause is still a good one. Alice Waters (and even Jamie Oliver) sort of "stick in my craw". However, I would not promote negative press or snottiness toward *the cause* due to not liking a spokesperson like Sheraton did. If she doesn't like Alice, she should just say so...stop with bringing the local food movement into it.

                                            1. re: sedimental

                                              There is a difference between "the local food movement" and "people who are absurdly smug about their participation in the local food movement." I think it's perfectly fine to slam the latter. (Most) people will understand that you aren't also slamming the former.

                              2. re: sedimental

                                Really - that surprises me. When I visit relatives in various towns around the US, my impression is that most of the shopping is done in supermarkets selling very little, if any, locally grown/raised food.

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  That is not my experience, most local supermarkets sell alot of local items. That is why I have so much fun when I travel. I love to hit the grocery stores in other states! My daughter just moved to South Carolina and was sending me food pictures from her local grocery store. She has been thrilled since she arrived.
                                  I suppose if all you buy is Kraft Mac and Cheese, it doesn't matter though.

                                  1. re: sedimental

                                    That's impressive. When I visit family in Iowa, N. Wisconsin and southwestern VA, I can only buy local items at "specialty" stores.

                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                      I'm surprised to hear that about Northern WI, but I don't think there are a lot of small family farms in Iowa anymore. :( Everyone is raising corn and beef for IBP, it seems.

                                      ~TDQ

                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                        Are you kidding? When I was in Wisconsin...I went nutz in the cheese isle of a local grocery store. Oh, they HAD Kraft...but that isn't what I bought. I even brought back cheese curds in a cooler on the plane as a carry on. Don't get me started on the terrific local ice cream! I don't remember all I bought (maybe local sausage?) but there is plenty of opportunity to buy local in a "regular" grocery store there. Vote with your feet. Buy local instead of corporate and there will be more of it.

                                        1. re: sedimental

                                          We did buy local ice cream - from a farm where one left cash on the honor system. And there was a farmer's market on Saturdays, with, frankly, more jewelry than food. Though I did buy some lovely honey and honey comb that I brought back to NY. The local eggs we bought from a little farm stand off the highway must have been about three weeks old. But, at the local grocery store - not so much in the way of local food.

                                          Trust me -- I do try. I love to cook, and when I go up to N. Wisconsin for two weeks every summer, I'd love to be able to buy locally and cook from that. But, I've learned from experience that that just isn't going to work.

                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                            Ew, three week old eggs. From a farm stand, which, I'm assuming, doesn't have optimal refrigeration :(

                                            I imagine Northern Wisconsin to be a lot like Northern MN because I find the two states culturally similar in a lot of ways, but apparently my assumption is wrong.

                                            In the supermarkets in Northern MN (Duluth and the Iron Range), I do find a lot of local products in the grocery stores, but it's often local meat specialty products and baked goods. The rest of the meat, dairy, produce in the regular grocery store is usually not spectacular or that local as far as I can tell, though there are pockets here and there where you'll find locally-raised goods in odd places, such as homemade soups, baked goods and dairy in a gas station convenience shop, that sort of thing. Again, I think a lot of people who have the interest and means (time, space, etc.) raise their own produce. I also think people rely on their butcher quite a bit. And, around Lake Superior, the fish market. Not really sure what most people do for dairy in these towns--it sounds like in WI there's a lot of local dairy. I guess I haven't paid as much attention to dairy when I'm out and about, aside from cheeses, a lot of which, frankly, comes from WI.

                                            ~TDQ

                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              True about people growing their own produce. An employee at the grocery store kindly brought in some chives from her garden once for me!

                                            2. re: MMRuth

                                              Gee, I live smack dab in sw VA and you're right if the grocery store you walked into was a Kroger or a Food Lion or a Walmart, etc. You're not going to see anything locally grown or made there. Walk into a family/locally owned non-chain grocery store and you will find *some* locally grown produce and products. Yes, you will see more local goods at "specialty" stores: natural food stores, gourmet food stores because those stores go out of their way to source local and are easier for the local growers/producers to get in to than the chain or even local owned grocery stores. It's no more difficult to drive to the "specialty" store than it is to the Food Lion.

                                              The farmers markets here vary in what they offer just as all farmers markets do across the nation and ultimately the people in charge of running those markets determine the ratio of food vs craft vendors. My town's farmers market opens the market on Friday evenings for craft vendors while Saturday is limited to food vendors. But there are many empty tables at the Saturday market and I fault the management for this too. In order to sell at the market a grower must sign up and pay for up front either a whole or half season. There is no other option. A lot of the small growers here simply won't do this because they know they can't produce enough to fill this obligation on a weekly basis although they would be more than happy to pay a higher fee per table on a first come/first serve basis than those growers who can afford a full/half season fee. In order to move their produce through the market they are forced to accept a lower price for their goods by selling them to a local "coop" that turns around and resells them at the market for a premium. Everyone loses except the "coop": The market looks shabby because there are so many empty tables, the small growers get a pittance for their crop, variety is limited, the customers have little or no interaction with the actual growers and end up paying more for what they buy than if the tables were full and the "coop" had to actually compete with other growers.

                                              And that's just the produce vendors. If you are offering something "value-added" there are even more hoops to jump through. "Value-added" products are jams, jellies, preserves, baked goods, dried goods, cheeses, sauces, etc. Basically anything that is not raw produce. It must be produced in a certified kitchen and all recipes must be submitted to and tested by (in our area) Virginia Tech before being sold to the public. There's an overall charge and a charge for each recipe being tested. Now I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but the whole package is a hideously expensive thing. It is extraordinarily difficult to get a home kitchen certified. Most people with certified kitchens in their homes actually have built a second kitchen separate from their daily kitchens which is certified and used exclusively for market production. Most people can't afford a second mortgage to fulfill that requirement. They must have their water tested regularly and the kitchen inspected regularly at their own expense. Plus they must carry insurance. Alternatively, there may be a certified kitchen in the area that can be rented. The nearest one here is 45 miles away. To use it a producer must pay an overall fee and then a fee per item depending on packaging. Plus the producer must still pay for recipe testing, insurance, and now the added cost/time of hauling all materials and ingredients to the certified kitchen, then hauling them back, then hauling them to market. Then, once someone has made that commitment, invested their time and money to get through the hoops, imagine their heartbreak and frustration to discover upon arriving at the market that the market coordinator has given a free weekly table to a local charity and that table is loaded with donated baked goods, preserves, etc. not required to be inspected/approved and being sold at not even a fraction of what the producer has invested in order to make a living.

                                              There's so many requirements, behind the scenes issues, and politics that go on with farmers markets that the average customer never knows about. If there's more jewelry vendors than local produce/food vendors some of the above issues may be at play and the market coordinators are filling their empty tables with craft vendors to make the market appear full and active, or to at least keep it alive. As a customer at our farmers market, I make as many purchases from the non-coop vendors as I can, I refuse to buy anything from the charity table (though I donate directly to that charity at it's office), and I constantly tell the management that they should open up the empty tables on a first come/first serve and fairly priced basis to growers who don't want to sell to the coop. I want to see/support more local vendors and I try to use my dollar and my voice to make that known to the management. Farmers markets, perhaps more so then other businesses, are customer driven and will improve only if the customers make their desires and demands known to the market management.

                                              1. re: morwen

                                                Wow, that's a pretty bad situation you have in your area, but I hope it isn't the norm. It isn't the case here. I've interviewed many local farmers and producers who are vocal about the fact that the local co-op pays better, is fairer, and is a major contributor to their ability to survive as farmers. The main farmer's market here is different as well... they allow non -produce vendors, but there are much smaller growers and producers as well as the big ones thriving off the market, which is open most of the year and packed with people from about June through October. We also have quite a lot of CSA's which lower the cost for the consumer, and give the farmers some assured income. As far as prepared food licensing, that's a national issue that unfortunately is unlikely to improve on the government end. You're right, supporting the small local producers whenever possible is the best we can do.

                                                1. re: getfoodie

                                                  I know the smaller growers would be bringing their own produce to the market if they could buy space on a weekly basis. And by smaller growers I'm referring to folks around here who grow what we call truck gardens; larger than a big home garden but smaller than 5 acres. These people grow great fruit and produce but will have breaks in their garden production when they can't bring enough to market to justify the cost of a whole or half season fee upfront. Our market is open May-early November and it has die-hard regular buyers but every week I'm there I see people walk by, peer in at the empty tables, and keep going. It just doesn't have the appearance of a thriving market and unfortunately, that "thriving market appearance" is what brings customers in. We have tons of CSA's here. We even have an "Apothecary CSA" starting up this year providing medicinal fresh herbs (not sure how that'll fly). But herbs provide a perfect example of the coop's choke hold. There are no fresh herbs at the market for you and I to buy. The coop has gone around and contracted with all the herb growers (3 counties worth) in advance for their crops. These fresh herbs are sold strictly to the restaurant trade. If you are the average farm market customer here in order to have herbs you have to grow your own or buy them at the grocery store. For some larger growers I'm sure the coop is a boon for them taking the marketing problem off their hands, for others it's a rock and a hard place.

                                          2. re: MMRuth

                                            I completely agree with you. We live at Lake Tahoe and also shop in Reno. Rarely is the food in the markets local. Even the farmers markets things in the summer are from about 100 miles away. We're at a high elevation with a short growing season.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              I agree with this too. When we are out on LI in the summers with incredible farm stands littering the road, I am shocked to see supermarket shoppers with non-local tomatoes and corn in their wagons. Why would you buy that in the summer? The supermarket never has local produce.

                                              1. re: roxlet

                                                I agree, I buy most of our produce at farm stands in the summer (I live in Hunterdon County NJ & we have tons of them) but my local Shop-Rite does carry local produce in the growing season. And lots of it. I just prefer to go to the markets and stands for a better selection, usually fresher and just for the plain fun of it.

                                                1. re: flourgirl

                                                  I agree, flourgirl. I did once hear that the reason the supermarkets often don't carry local produce has to do with their relationships with their usual produce suppliers and how, if they were to start featuring local produce, their usual suppliers would serve them last when there were shortages of produce in the off season. It sort of makes sense, but I can't vouch for the source...

                                                  1. re: roxlet

                                                    I've heard that too, roxlet, but also -- Our co-op works to use local suppliers whenever possible, which means they pay higher prices to those other suppliers, and have more logistical difficulties, since small local farmers often can't consistently supply the way a big multi-source supplier can. I'm willing to deal, but lots of people want to walk to the tomato display and pick up an identical tomato every week, no matter from where or how much. Grocery chains don't want every store manager scrambling to develop relationships with local farmers, negotiate prices, deal with shortages. It's easier to sell tomatoes from a thousand miles away when there are tons of fresh, local ones within a few miles.

                                                  2. re: flourgirl

                                                    Yum! NJ Tomatoes! Flourgirl is right. When I lived in Jersey, the local Shop-Rite, as well as the Pennington Market and other grocery stores carried local and excellent produce in season. My market of choice for fresh fruits and veg wasLittle Acres in Pennington, NJ.
                                                    I can't..absolutely can't eat tomatoes when they are not in season. There is something wonderful and satisfying when you take that fresh-in season, red and slightly green in spots, big, juicy tomato and slice it in half, sprinkle a little salt over it and bite into that baby! MMMM..the juice running down your chin--well it is finger-lickin' good! The same goes for strawberries. For three weeks out of the year, you could go pick your own strawberries at Little Acres and come home to REAL berries. Pinky-red in the middle--not white like those grocery store strawbs. Nice and juicy...Ohhhhh I cannot wait for summer!

                                            2. re: sedimental

                                              First of all, "local" doesn't necessarily equate to quality. If you're from Central MN, the cheese in Kraft Mac & Cheese IS local. On a high-humidity day, you can lick the orange powder off of any car in town. Green Giant is also "local", as are Land O'Lakes and Hormel.

                                              I think this is one of those things that depends on the individual consumer and the particular community. Even in the "breadbasket" of the midwest, there are small towns where there isn't a local family farm in sight. All the output from those farms is committed to big, corporate enterprises. People in those communities don't find a lot of local produce and meats in their grocery stores. If they want "local" produce, they often grow it in their own gardens, and many do.

                                              I also know families that do have access to more "family" type farms, but many of those folks still have huge gardens they live off of all summer and, through canning and cold storage, most of, but not all of winter. They also have access to meat, lamb, pork, and dairy through personal connections with the people who raise the animals. They do a lot of their own fishing and hunt their own duck and the occasional goose or grouse. They personally know--and have known for decades-- the various ranchers who raise their lamb, pork, and beef.

                                              But, even in those communities, there are plenty of people who shop at the big grocery stores and purchase "national" brands. Not everyone is a Chowhound or cares where their food comes from. It's a sad truth.

                                              ~TDQ

                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                Absolutely. That is why those who know food or work in the food industry should educate and encourage more healthy, local foods. Not do what Sheraton just did.

                                                1. re: sedimental

                                                  but. . . um. . . the folks who shop at wal mart and purchase national brands. . . don't know mimi sheraton from zsa zsa gabor (or alice waters, for that matter), anyway. so wtf do they care what she says?

                                  2. Well, I took this as a direct swipe at Alice Walters. There. I said it.

                                    11 Replies
                                    1. re: roxlet

                                      Oh, well then I'm fine with it. :)

                                          1. re: roxlet

                                            "...especially from California...". Hello, Alice. Sure sounds like it to me. Easy to eat local where the temperature seldom goes below 50 all year round.
                                            I like her "bestivore" title myself.

                                            1. re: buttertart

                                              The funny thing is, I think the concept of "bestivore" (which is good, I agree) isn't necessarily incongruent with the original locavore concepts as I recall them. I thought one of the "locavore" principles was if you stray from eating from your local "foodshed", do so in order to get the best stuff, eg., champagne from the appropriate region France or Parmigiano from Italy, etc.

                                              ~TDQ

                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  For me, I think that it's the "holier than thou" attitude that Mimi is referring to rather than the specifics of locavore or bestivore principles.

                                                  1. re: roxlet

                                                    Yes, I agree. If there is anyone that knows all about being "holier than thou"...it's Mimi Sheraton! I am sure she will get alot of flack for her statements as well!

                                                    The "message" (any message) sure can get twisted when the messenger is an obnoxious bore.

                                                    1. re: sedimental

                                                      Really? Many years ago I had the occasion to spend quite a bit of time with Mimi and I never found her to be an obnoxious bore. She was always lovely and gracious and very willing to hear other opinions. She has a point of view, that's for sure, but really, I consider that to be part of being a critic.

                                                2. re: buttertart

                                                  Alice Waters reminds me of that South Park episode "Smug Alert!"

                                              1. I just noticed this thread and it's like dejavu all over again. I remember a similar thread from last summer, shortly after I began posting on Chow, and I got into an exchange with someone who apparently no longer posts here (I hope it isn't because of me). Anyway the intrepid moderators shut the thread down. I just looked for it but couldn't find it. Do they delete threads such as that one?

                                                I agree that it just makes sense to buy local when there is good local food available. Right now in Minnesota, there is no local, fresh produce available. I'm not going to feel guilty about buying fresh produce now no matter where it was grown. On the last thread I was told we should only eat home canned produce and root vegetables during the winter. The exchange that followed is what shut the thread down.

                                                14 Replies
                                                1. re: John E.

                                                  I still have a number of my CSA squashes and root vegetables left (although, to be honest, the root vegetables are starting to look pretty soft and scary) and am gradually working away at all of the tomatoes we canned. We didn't freeze much this year as we usually, except for rhubarb. Don't know why.

                                                  But, yes, we, too are starting to supplement with non-local produce.

                                                  ~TDQ

                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                    No matter where it was grown? Do you think it would make a difference to choose produce from Mexico and California vs Chile and Peru? Admittedly, It is hard to really know, but with a 747 cargo plane using as much fuel as it does, I personally can't justify buying opposite hemisphere avocadoes. 100 miles is an awfully tight circle, 500 more realistic, 1000 brings very few limitations, see no reason to go 5000.

                                                    1. re: babette feasts

                                                      I agree BUT. Sam used to point out occasionally that creating an exportable agricultural business in places like Peru can help at least some with the drugs. If people have some options to earn money legitimately....
                                                      (Damn, I miss him esp. at times like this. He could explain this better and more eloquently.)

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        Yes, it's not an all or nothing venture. It is also NOT just about fruits and vegetables. It is about meat, dairy and "production" issues like local grain mills, coffee roasters, etc. and using co ops and farmers markets first and choosing to eat more "seasonally". I have seen our local supermarkets completely transform with the growing awareness of "locavores" and feeling pressured to compete. The change has been amazing.

                                                        As a foodie, I love it. I have choice everywhere around me now and I couldn't say that even 5 years ago. I think it's great. It really is more expansive rather than limiting. I still go to a chain grocery store, still buy banana's there-but now I have the choice (right there) for local dairy milk in a glass bottle on the shelf right next to Dairygold milk (more corporate)- depending on what I want the milk for. No separate trip! Way cool.

                                                      2. re: babette feasts

                                                        We make sensible decisions. Most avocados are from California anyway, aren't they? I compare price and quality and don't pay as much attention to origin as some on this board likely do. I do buy bananas, and other fruit and vegetables that come from other countries. How much produce is shipped (so to speak) by air?

                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                          Very little is shipped by air. Most produce coming from S America, for example, goes by container ship. Most people promoting "locavorism" don't realize that this form of transportation actually typically has a smaller carbon footprint than so-called local produce. Generally speaking, a head of lettuce from California, or a bag of grapes from Chile, is landed in your local supermarket on the east coast with LESS fuel consumption than that burned by a farmer bringing a similar amount of stuff 75 miles to the farmers market. Just a fact. Fuel use has a lot more to do with the type of vehicle and the volume than it does miles. "Food miles" is a bogus concept.

                                                          1. re: johnb

                                                            You're right about the refrigerated container shipment of produce from SA and other places, air transport is way too expensive for any but high-value, short shelf-life products. (I'm in the transportation business and it amazes me how few people really know or even bother to think about how things get into the country.)

                                                            1. re: johnb

                                                              Johnb, do you have any sources you could possibly link, with the carbon (and other relevant emissions) calculations used to dub "food miles" as a "bogus concept"? Thanks!

                                                              1. re: mateo21

                                                                There are many. Most do a life-cycle calculation including production energy use and find that it's nearly always better to produce where conditions are favorable and then transport to market. The most oft-quoted of these is the Lincoln University of New Zealand study--you can easily find and download it by googling. Here is another more or less randomly chosen link along these lines:

                                                                http://www.ethicurean.com/2008/06/23/...

                                                                Here is a link to a NYT article by McWillians that briefly makes several such points and refers to other studies (he also has a book out

                                                                )

                                                                http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/06/opi...

                                                                Here is a link to an illustrative example I put together and posted on another board--these numbers, while typical, are only hypothetical, but they do make the point more clear:

                                                                http://donrockwell.com/index.php?show...

                                                                The basic problem is that most people think that if you double the miles you double the fuel use. That would be true if all else were held equal, but all else isn't equal. Long hauls nearly always involve large quantities, so the fuel use per food unit is much reduced. In addition, when the transportation is by rail or especially containership, fuel use per food unit moved practically drops out of sight due to the extreme fuel efficiency of those forms of transportation. As I noted in my example, you merely driving your car the additional distance to the farmer's market turns out to be a huge part of the total transport fuel use.

                                                                Hope that's enough to get you started. There's lots more out there.

                                                                1. re: johnb

                                                                  johnb, I'm interested in your view of this report:

                                                                  http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu...

                                                                  Carbon Footprint Analysis for Kaiser Permanente
                                                                  Food Procurement Alternatives in Northern California

                                                                  1. re: souvenir

                                                                    I scanned it--looks like fully absorbing it would take more time than I have (at the moment I'm dividing my time between CH and the new season premier of Top Gear on BBC, which I'm partially time-shifting on the DVR).

                                                                    Anyway, it's hard to trace just how they got to the final numbers, but it appears that, unlike my example, they are generally comparing similar types of producers and similar types/sizes of transport, so it stands to reason the closer source would be better. If I were a big buyer in California like them I'd buy local too--why ship stuff in from Mexico? Seems like coals to Newcastle. It does show that the results you get depend on the specific circumstances you're dealing with. Clearly a large buyer's choices will differ from the options available to the typical household. In a way, I'm surprized the cost spreads weren't even bigger.

                                                                    If I get a chance to look more deeply into it, I'll report further.

                                                                  2. re: johnb

                                                                    Thanks for the links, Johnb. Great information -- these are questions we need to asking of our food production system if we are going to feed everyone on the planet in the coming decades. I do, however, find it interesting that at least two of the articles you mentioned disagree with your initial post (although I think your second post is much better written, not speaking in as much of absolutes as your first, e.g. food miles are bogus).

                                                                    Souvenir cites and interesting study, although the literature strength isn't too strong, the other few articles you linked only quoted a study or two (or none). What they all seem to agree on is that there are bigger fish to fry, so to speak. However your last link is a rather simplistic, and poor napkin calculation, that doesn't hold up to scrutiny -- because it leaves too many variables unconsidered; as you say, cetaris paribus, straight gains in carbon emissions might be wrongly assumed via miles for carbon emitted is always better, the local food movement cites numerous additional benefits beyond that.

                                                                    I really like the New Zealand vs. british lamb example. This is why we need (if I may bring anther non-food hot-botton issue up) a solid science education in this country. Is that a lot of these problems are not simple assumed calculations as you pointed out, and critical thinking on these issues is paramount for success. I shop as local as a can as much for social reasons as economic as much as environmental -- I walk to my farmers market, and know many of them. I do feel the need to point out the lack of sustainability calculations in some of these reports -- e.g. will it be possible 50 years from now to ship lamb from NZ to GB (likewise, if that isn't possible, it most likely won't be possible to ship the feed to GB to make up for the shortcomings of their pasturing abilities).

                                                              2. re: John E.

                                                                Avocadoes come from a variety of places. Where I shop, lately the signs say Mexico but the tags on the fruit say Chile. The California crop comes later than the Mexico crop, so I guess we'll see them in a few months.

                                                                I really don't know about shipping methods, and c oliver has a good point, too (re: Sam), which is why it is so hard to know what is really the 'best' decision. Shopper's paralysis, anyone? I would imagine that perishable produce is air freighted, would asparagus last on a container ship from south america? Or can they keep it cold enough/gas it enough to hold it?

                                                                Either way, i realized right after I posted that how small a part produce plays, and how little attention i really pay. I don't give a second thought to buying French cheese or Australian wine or Latvian smoked fish. Maybe avocadoes are just easier to give up? And I hate the farmers' market, I really don't want to get to know each farmer individually and have 12 different social interactions while I shop, I just want to be able to shop without distraction and check out all at once. Hmm.

                                                                1. re: babette feasts

                                                                  YIKES!!!! I never even thought about wine and cheese. That skews the whole thing, for me anyway.

                                                          2. I think Mimi is taking a cheap shot. I don't know anyone who advocates eating only locally grown/raised food. We don't have lemons here in the midwest, and I'd be bereft without them. However, if I have the choice of buying local, I grab it. Produce is fresher and tastier, for sure. And unlike some, I like to look the producers of the meat I eat in the eye and ask them a few questions about their animal husbandry practices.

                                                            20 Replies
                                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                                              And Maine lobster, Dungeness crab, etc. Interesting thread.

                                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                                Some people do go overboard about eating local and they judge others that do not do as they say. In the thread that got shut down I was told I had to eat potatoes all winter like a Russian peasant because they were local.

                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                  Could you give the link to that please? I'd be interested in reading it.

                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                    I have been unable to locate it. I think it was deleted. The OP was similar to this thread but I don't remember who wrote the article critical of the locavore movement. The thread got shutdown sometime in August I believe. I try not to be to confrontational here because it doesn't really accomplish anything but I was involved in two threads where it appeared I may have been the reason for the thread being shut down. I don't recall what the other topic was. I have noticed that I haven't had any posts deleted in a long time. I suppose I've learned how to play nice.

                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                      There are certainly some fanatical locavores, but for every one of them, there's 100 people who don't even consider the origin of their food. I live in a place known for its plentiful locally sourced options, and strong focus on buying local (Ithaca, NY - only city in the US with our own currency). I make buying local a priority, and try to choose or find local sources when possible. We have local flour, beans, grains, etc. in addition to the usual vegetables, beef, pork (charcuterie!) chicken, etc. So I have it easy. Nevertheless, this time of year I'm buying my family oranges and bananas and other non local fruits and veggies to supplement the local sprouts and greens available year round.
                                                                      I think it's about being mindful, as you said. And not expecting everyone to transform their life or live on stored root veggies for four months. I work to inspire people to try adding a local, fresh food to their diet - visit a farm or the farmer's market. It's not about riding a fad, as someone said up further, it's just good sense, and responsible consumption. I do this with a locavore cooking show, but still don't endorse flying all over the place to encourage local eating :-)

                                                                      1. re: getfoodie

                                                                        We eat local when it makes sense, both due to availability and economically, and when it doesn't, we don't.

                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                          JohnE, what's all this insanity about doing what makes sense? :) It is amazing, though, how a little common sense goes a long way, even when it comes to something like grocery shopping.

                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                            If only the average person would apply more common sense to grocery shopping, and rely less on what they've been told by commercials and lobbyists. TDQ, I was actually trying to respond to your comment below, but accidentally clicked on John's post - I apologize. I think the issue for me is that many people aren't aware of the local options, or willing to make an effort to look into a CSA, their local co-op, etc. After soaking up zillions of dollars of advertising telling them to trust Tyson, they don't consider buying fresh, local, pastured chickens. So in some sense, travelling to convince people to think about their food could make sense, but it seems that the damage would likely outweigh the benefit. I try with Get Foodie to encourage people to get informed and think about what they eat without imposing any judgement or guilt, because there's already enough of that out there.

                                                                  2. re: John E.

                                                                    I'm sure that person, whoever it was, would allow you to have some borcht along with your soft, eye-ridden potatoes... ;-).

                                                                    I think "locavore" means different things to different people and that people do it for different reasons.

                                                                    As I said upthread somewhere, I think the people who coined that locavore expression actually didn't seem that fanatical about it, that they actually had this principle that said that if you're eating outside of your local "foodshed", you should buy the best. Champagne from France and parmesan cheese from Italy, etc.

                                                                    And, yes, I enjoy citrus and avocados and oysters all kinds of things that can't be raised here in MN and I indulge in them. But, even then, I try to be mindful of eating them in season.

                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                      Let's raid Michael Pollan's 'fridge!

                                                                        1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                          That's it. I don't know why I couldn't find it. There are many posts missing. As you can see towards the end, the moderators removed posts. Most of the contentious posts are no longer there.

                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                            i participated in that thread. iirc, you were looking specifically for just a few varieties of vegetables and when they were not in season, you weren't open to eating other kinds of vegetables that *were* in season locally. saying that since the local green beans were unavailable, or whatever, you had to get green beans from south america. people were getting on your case because you were basically rejecting the local food that the rest of us eat-- vegetables like kale, parnsnips, cabbage etc. people were listing everything that was available in their csa boxes or at the farmer's market and you were basically saying, "that's nice but i won't eat that," and then you were still saying nothing local was available.

                                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                                              I never replied with "I won't eat that". Tell me, what local, fresh vegetables are available locally in the Twin Cities right now?

                                                                              I buy local when it makes sense. I don't feel guilty when I don't buy local. I don't need to be preached to about what food I buy by anybody.

                                                                              Does driving a round trip of 40+ miles make sense to go to Whole Foods?

                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                  As I was saying:

                                                                                  "I think the locavores should stay home, that they shouldn't fly back and forth, especially from California making big carbon footprints in the sky to speak to us about the importance of being local."

                                                                                  Let's include big carbon footprints on the ground, too.

                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                    "Tell me, what local, fresh vegetables are available locally in the Twin Cities right now?"

                                                                                    i looked in featherstone's csa box last week (yes, they are still delivering, msp area, february). herbs, cabbage, daikon, carrots, a lot of other stuff i don't remember.

                                                                                    forgive me if i don't recall your exact words. you just kept saying that local produce was not available, and that your family was interested in just a few types of vegetables. you wrote this in august. in minnesota. the local produce is gangbusters at that time of year. it's fine if you don't want to eat local produce, btw-- i'm eating a lot of non-local fruit right now, fwiw-- i'm not preaching and i'm not a rabid locovore-- however i'm very aware of what is, what was, and what will be available in season from local sources. what irritated me personally about your position in this last thread, and imo what really made several people mad, was your insistence that since you don't eat locally, that it is impossible for other people to do so. in your post you also stated that local produce was unavailable 7 months of the year and that people had to ship it in from cali "or have none." people called you out because these statements are simply not true. folks in the msp area eat the most local food in the country, and that's because 1) the local food is available 2) the *average,* non-foodie, non-locovore, consumer in this area is informed about the marketplace and chooses a significant amount of their foodstuffs from local sources, in what ever way that it makes sense to the individual. if we were all to operate on the erroneous premise that only people in southern california can eat locally, as you and mimi sheraton seem to believe, imo there would be a mighty big problem.

                                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                      Boy do you have things wrong. I never said I was only interested in a dew vegetables, I did mention a few that were unavailable locally grown available during hexwinter, specifically green vegetables. I never suggested that since I could not eat local year-round that others should not do so. My point was always that local produce is unavailable during the winter. Sure, parsnips and carrots might be available butcjust because I live in a cold climate in this day and age doesn't mean I have to limit our diet.

                                                                                      You just posted that I don't eat locally. That's not true. I do when the local produce is available. Sure some stuff might be acailable in the winter, but not much.

                                                                                      I especially don't like to be told what o eat or o be looked down upon because of the choices I made. How is not eating green vegetables for several months a year lead to a more healthy populace? (That was my response to a claim made in the other thread).

                                                                                      Your memory is faulty.

                                                                                2. re: John E.

                                                                                  I figured it had been cleaned up a little. ;) And I certainly didn't mean to introduce any contention into this thread by unearthing that one.

                                                                                  I found it by googling 'locavore food media and news chowhound'.

                                                                                  1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                                    Nah, you didn't/won't start anything with me. I've learned since then to tone it down some, but I was challenged and didn't back down. Those posts were all removed. I don't go out of my way to eat food that has a larrge 'carbon footprint' but I don't worry all that much about it either. There are a lot of other things that are more productive to help the environment. Reusable bags instead of plastic comes to mind. (I realize it's not an either/or situation).

                                                                          2. Local foods are often not the same as food that needs to be shipped. A lot of varieties of fruits and vegetables are grown because they ship well rather than taste the best. When the foods are grown locally and sold locally the farmer can choose varieties for flavor rather than ability to stay in one piece or not become overripe too soon. I'd rather have canned or dried fruit in the winter that was fabulous to taste rather than out of season cardboard flavored and textured food any day.
                                                                            Saving energy by not shipping is a great thing but having food that really tastes wonderful is even a better reason to eat local.

                                                                            81 Replies
                                                                            1. re: susanl143

                                                                              I talked to a guy that was involved with agriculture in Washington. He said there is a movement to bring back the Delicious apples from 30+ years ago. There is a hydroponic farm just a little south of the Twin Cities that grows vine-ripened tomatoes. They obviously aren't as good as summer tomes, but they are better than the winter tomatoes shipped in from elsewhere. We don't really buy them much but my wife will if she has a hankering for a BLT in February.

                                                                              1. re: susanl143

                                                                                Susan, I couldn't imagine going the whole winter without fresh fruits and vegetables. I live in the NE and we have pretty darn long winters. And while what you say is undeniabley true about SOME produce, I would say that it is an overbroad generalization. My local markets stock all kinds of excellent fruits and veggies that have been shipped - including a lot of excellent salad greens, fresh herbs, etc. Even the vine tomatoes we get are light years better than the anemic-looking things they used to try and sell to us in the winter.

                                                                                1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                  If I understand correctly, those "local" hydroponic or hothouse or whatever tomatoes etc., grown in the winter in cold places, have a huge carbon footprint relative to those grown in, say, Florida or Mexico and trucked in.

                                                                                  1. re: johnb

                                                                                    You know what? I'm not that worried about "huge carbon footprints." We live in a small house in a land of McMansions, we drive sedans, not SUVs, we have one kid, not four, etc. etc. etc. If I want to buy vine-ripened tomatoes in the winter, I will. And nope, I don't feel the slightest bit guilty about it either.

                                                                                    1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                      Veggies grown in the winter in greenhouses don't necessarily have a huge carbon footprint. We have several local farms (Upstate NY) that grow fresh greens, etc. even citrus, at least through January without using electric power, etc. Some greenhouse growers may not use sustainable methods, but that doesn't mean all do. This is part of the argument for eating locally - know your farmer, know where your food comes from, that it's safe, healthy, and ethically produced.

                                                                                      1. re: getfoodie

                                                                                        Look, I do my best to buy locally, which is fairly easy in the late spring, summer and early fall here. But the rest of the year, I have limited options, and not tons of time to go running around the state trying to find the food raised with the smallest possible "carbon footprint." Besides, using all that gas to do so isn't exactly environmentally friendly either

                                                                                      2. re: flourgirl

                                                                                        Nor should you. I was actually only taking the opportunity, once again, to point out that producing things far away and transporting them is often less energy-intensive than producing them locally. This is true even during the Summer, because the economies of large-scale long-haul transportation are so favorable compared to small-scale farmer transportation to small markets, a point I made earlier, but something that most of those who promote locavorism appear to continue to be confused about.

                                                                                        There are reasons why eating locally may be a good thing, but transportation energy savings are not generally among them.

                                                                                        1. re: johnb

                                                                                          That could be true (depending on the area) but the "bigger picture" is that if you don't support local agriculture- it won't be there. Just like if you don't buy organics because they cost a bit more- they won't be there and you will never have any hope that the price will come down.

                                                                                          I have seen this change in my local community. Now organics are much closer to the price of non organics than 2 years ago. It is great. Every major grocery store sells organics and local produce. It was a fact that they did not do this 2 years ago. It doesn't take long to effect a big change.

                                                                                          1. re: sedimental

                                                                                            All this makes me wonder how many folks who extol the virtues of, and strongly support, local farmers, for the reasons you say, have been driving down to the farmers' market exclusively in Japanese, European, and Korean cars for most of their lives.

                                                                                            1. re: johnb

                                                                                              If someone wishes to be a true 'locavore' in the Twin Cities one has to drive a Ford Ranger, manufactured in St. Paul. I bet many of the so-called locavores are driving Volvos.

                                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                                To be honest, I'll bet a good share of them are cycling. But probably not on bicycles manufactured in St. Paul.

                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                                  Ethical "absolutism" is not a relative argument for anything.

                                                                                                  The real issue is that people should try to do their best and make good choices when they reasonably can. This is where I have objection to "mimi's" catty little response to big name locavores trying to get out the message. Picking people apart for taking an airplane to talk/lecture/interview whatever...is a cheap shot and does nothing positive.

                                                                                                  1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                    I agree - the idea that the effort to eat local is invalid because you don't drive the "right" car, etc. seems quintessentially unproductive. There's a large contingent of our community that chose to live "in town" where they can reasonably walk or cycle most places most of the year. I think that's meaningful, although I'm not one of them - owning a secondhand car that wasn't made nearby doesn't invalidate my efforts to promote community oriented consumption. I produce a television show that involves traveling to local farms and learning about food, then cooking it with my kids. I never considered scrapping the project because my goal of encouraging families to make better choices was hypocritical since I have to use a few gallons of gas per episode. I'm actually careful not to give the idea that eating local fresh food is like joining a convent - give up your entire life as you know it, and prepare for endless sacrifice. I see the day to day struggles that farmers make in order to provide our food, and I support local farmers and producers.

                                                                                                    1. re: getfoodie

                                                                                                      This reminds me of a completely unrelated quote from Michael Ruhlman's "Charcuterie." He's talking about keeping your ingredients and equipment cold while making pate and says, " You don’t have to be fanatical about it...but do be slightly paranoid about it."

                                                                                                      The real issue following a "locavore", or any lifestyle, dogmatically for ethical reasons is that there are a lot of complex considerations to balance. Are you concerned about global social welfare and fair trade? animal welfare? clean air? clean water? global climate change? sustainability? supporting local, independent businesses?

                                                                                                      Sometimes the "right" choice , assuming you could discern it, is different depending on what your particular concerns are. The options are sometimes in conflict.

                                                                                                      Peter Singer (and his co-author) in their book "The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter" is a great read for people who are concerned about these kinds of issues. The authors look at numerous considerations and conclude that the most "ethical" diet is a vegan one. But, they also say that the most important change you can make in your diet if ethics are driving your choices is to avoid factory farmed products (meat, poultry, dairy, eggs, etc.). By doing so, "then you will have achieved 80 percent of the good that you would have achieved if you followed every suggestion in the book." [Scroll down to the last answer in this Q&A.]

                                                                                                      http://www.salon.com/books/int/2006/0...

                                                                                                      Regarding locavorism, they basically say "Buying local food, when it is in season [they place great emphasis on "in season" in the book] is generally a good thing to do, but sometimes there are stronger ethical reasons for buying imported food." The general takeaway is eat locally and "IN SEASON."

                                                                                                      Another book I like is "The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists." According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, "Give special attention to major purchases," because major out-of-the-ordinary consumer purchases have an especially great impact on your overall environmental profile. So, it's very important "which house or apartment you select, which car, appliance, and heating system to buy."

                                                                                                      As a rule of thumb, they say the greater the weight of the item, the greater the environmental impact. They say, "it's more important to recycle a three-pound Sunday newspaper than a one-ounce plastic yogurt container... this does not mean that you need to avoid purchasing all heavy products, but you should scrutinize those decisions more carefully, unless you use the light items in high quantities."

                                                                                                      Anyway, my point is, these issues are very complex. Depending on what your concerns are, your choices may be different.

                                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                        I agree with that.

                                                                                                        It is also important not to mistake information (and the people that give it) as a judgment on your current behavior. No one is going to expend the energy to think about this stuff every minute of the day. No one expects perfection. It would likely drive you nutz and paralyze your decision making if you tried to live up to a purity standard. However, some people never think about it *at all* though. Those folks benefit from people expending some fuel to spread the word!

                                                                                                      2. re: getfoodie

                                                                                                        You and sedimental have missed my point. There are fanatical locavores that judge people by what food they buy and where they buy it and where it was grown. My point was that if those people are going to judge others' food purchases that harshly, they better be driving a locally made automobile, which in the Twin Cities is a Ford Ranger pickup truck which are made at the Ford plant in St. Paul (at least for now).

                                                                                                        As I have stated numerous times, I buy local when it makes sense for my family and do not take kindly others judging the decisions I make for my family.

                                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                                          Ultimately that's what it comes down to isn't it. Doing the best you can with what you have for your family and community and ignoring the self-righteous zealots making snap judgments on appearances. The rabid ones here are never seen helping new gardeners at the community garden or teaching preserving or gleaning the fields for the food bank. They're too busy being self-important sticking their noses into other people's shopping bags and foaming at the mouth. F'em.

                                                                                                          1. re: morwen

                                                                                                            I have known a few fanatical locovores, and they actually do help people learn to garden, teach cooking classes to families, etc. I think we can be annoyed by their fanaticism without making giant leaps of judgment about the extent to which they act on them in related areas. Geesh.

                                                                                                            1. re: morwen

                                                                                                              Well, now this thread has come full circle. I'm no Alice Waters apologist (you can search this forum for previous discussions of Waters and my opinions about her) or even locavore apologist, but it seems to me that Ms. Waters efforts' to spread the word and to help teach people are exactly what gave rise to the comment that motivated roxlet to start this thread in the first place.

                                                                                                              Alice most certainly has spend time helping new gardeners at the community garden.

                                                                                                              http://www.edibleschoolyard.org/about-us

                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                Right, the whole "fanatical locovore" who judges other people seems to be like such a strawman. All of the people who are big in the eat local movement are all about bringing community gardens, farmers markets, and better and easier ways to eat local to their own communities, in order to make it possible for people to do so.

                                                                                                                1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                                                  Notice I said "here", meaning where I live, and that I said "zealots". The local locavores I appreciate are those folks who go about contributing, teaching, and being available without feeling the need to chest thump. There's a difference between hectoring someone until their eyes glaze over and they run away and a person who is glad to help and share without condemning. Unfortunately over the past couple of years at our local level, the concept has become quite political with some people who treat locavorism as the new "fundamentalism". It's polarizing and does no one any good.

                                                                                                                  As far as celebrity locavores go, I definitely have those I absolutely respect and those I take with a grain of salt.

                                                                                                                  1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                                                    Nope, I have run across 'fanatical locovores' both here on Chowhound, in person and I've heard them interviewed on the radio. I've seen them on TV as well. Alice Waters qualifies, I suppose. I have no problem wth eating local, I just don't wish to be judged by those that feel that eating food out of season or not local is a crime against humanity.

                                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                      Didn't Bourdain characterize Waters as " Pol Pot in a muumuu"? I find the browbeating from food fetishists tiresome and--not infrequently--hypocritical as hell.

                                                                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                        I'm not denying these folks exist or that you've met them, but I can say that I guess I am fortunate not to have encountered any "fanatical locavores" in real life (though I have actually met Alice Waters, at Chez Panisse, but in the context of this conversation I don't think that counts as we did not have a discussion about anything other than, "How many in your party?" and "How are you enjoying your mea?l").

                                                                                                                        I think people do get very passionate (I'm going to avoid using the word "fanatical") here on Chowhound when arguing a point one way or the other, but I think it's easy to come across pretty one-dimensional online. RE: the person you heard on the radio. That person was presumably invited to the radio program to promote a specific belief or viewpoint and, once again, probably tried to present a distilled and pure viewpoint. And if they showed any crack in the facade, they'd be criticized for being hypocrites.

                                                                                                                        I know two families in real life that I believe are true "locavores" in the food realm. One family has a giant garden, and always has, and cans and preserves and keeps food in cold storage for winter. They buy all of their meat and poultry and dairy locally and directly from the producers, as they have done for many years because they grew up as farmers and even though they aren't farmers anymore, they are still connected to the farming community both emotionally and socially. They know how food is produced and they only want the stuff they can trust. They also hunt and fish. However, if you said to them, "Wow, you're hard core locavores," I think they'd have a hearty laugh at that and think you were a trendy little git. I will also say that these folks spend a lot of time assisting and educating small farmers and have for years in various capacities. This isn't a dogmatic thing for them. It's just how they live and it feels very logical and practical to them.

                                                                                                                        But, they buy oranges and olive oil and foodstuffs that aren't "local" because that's the only way they can enjoy those things. And, sure, in winter, they are going to buy fresh produce from the grocery store to supplement what they've put up.

                                                                                                                        The other family I know really lives the lifestyle even beyond the kitchen. They buy almost no hard goods new, everything is used or handed down or recycled. They moved from a big city to a small farm and are doing everything themselves in terms of poultry and vegetables. Whatever excess they have, they donate back to the community. They are vocal and involved in politics and their "locavore" lifestyle is completely consistent with that. But, if they met up with you socially or were if they were dining at your home or entertaining you in theirs, they would never initiate a discussion about food politics. And if you did engage them in a discussion of food politics, well, they'd tiptoe around you at first to see if you REALLY wanted to get into it, and if they concluded that you did, well God help you because they will argue you to the death.

                                                                                                                        But these aren't people who take fancy vacation or buy shiny expensive cars or anything like that. And they've been evolving into this lifestyle over the course of about 20 years, even before the term "locavore" was coined. Also noteworthy, though, is that they live in a very moderate climate, which, I think, faciliates their lifestyle.

                                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                          I have no problems with the people you describe. Heck, I admire there decdication a little. However, if they preached to me the error or my ways because I don't always buy local I would have another, less genteel opinion of them.

                                                                                                                          By the wa, I grew up in a family with a huge garden and the whole canning and freezing vegetables thing.

                                                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                            Nah, the first couple wouldn't lecture you. They don't even think of it as a "thing." The second couple might have lectured you 10 years ago, but now they figure the best they can do is be an example to people. People who are interested can ask if they want to know more, and my friends will be happy to explain.

                                                                                                                            As far as growing up with the big garden and canning and vegetables, etc., I'm not surprised to hear you grew up that way. (I didn't, by the way.) I think it's the experience of many Minnesotans, especially those who grew up outside of the Metro area. I'm not sure why it is, whether many people just still have connections to the land and farming, but I suspect that it might be the climate.

                                                                                                                            I think that when spring and summer FINALLY arrive, Minnesotans want to get out there, outdoors, including in their gardens and soak it all up.

                                                                                                                            The first thing that comes up in my yard is rhubarb. It's a perennial so I don't have to do anything, it just shows up. And when I hear that the morels are in the coops, I run run run. They are so fleeting.

                                                                                                                            There's nothing better than a tomato picked out of your garden, still hot from the sunshine. Or those tiny, super sweet first strawberries. Because we have those long days of daylight, everything grows like crazy. And then suddenly, you have too much...so the logical thing is to can or freeze it because it's just not possible to eat it all.

                                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                              In my family's case it was my dad's garden. (My mother did a lot of canning and freezing but wasn't too sad about it when they moved and didn't have a garden anymore). My dad and his two brothers all had large gardens, but interestingly enough, his brother in northeast Minneapolis (Columbia Heights, close to where they grew up. My dad's garden was in your husband's hometown) had the largest garden. Their parents were immigrants and in the old country you had a large garden and it was the depression. My father's family was basically sustinence farming in the city. They had a cow, chickens, pigs, ducks, geese and a goat right off Central Avenue. There is a Rainbow Foods grocery store there now.

                                                                                                                        2. re: John E.

                                                                                                                          I'm no huge fan of Alice Waters, but I don't think she qualifies, since she eats plenty of non local food, like wine, imported spices and meats, etc. There are plenty of people who you could define as fanatical about certain things in their own lives, but don't judge others for doing it differently.

                                                                                                                          1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                                                            I'll go along with that. I don't know that much about her. That's why I used the words "I suppose" in my reference to her.

                                                                                                                            1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                                                              I grew up about a block from Chez Panisse, and was a teenager when it opened. My boyfriend was a dishwasher there. I eat there a lot, mainly in the cafe. Alice Watera started the Edible School Yard program at my old junior high school. All of the Berkeley school food programs now serve organic food because of her work. Because of her, schools across the nation are putting in edible gardens and children are learning alternatives to processed junk food.

                                                                                                                              In her restaurant, all of the meat and produce are locally sourced, some of it from the backyard of neighbors in Berkeley. Most of her wines are from California, if not all ( I can't remember, I'm not much of a wine drinker). She has lived in the same house for something like thirty or forty years, a small nondescript house.
                                                                                                                              She doesn't sell frozen food in the grocery stores, hasn't opened restaurant in airports or in Las Vegas. And I believe that Chez Panisse turned it's first profit just a few years ago. She pays her employees above a living wage and they have good health care.

                                                                                                                              I think it's what I now call Martha Stewart syndrome. People don't like to feel that their choices are to be examined or questioned. They feel that the messenger is telling them how to live their lives. very libertarian. Jamie Oliver is next, as the guy everyone hates and Michelle Obama is being taken to task by Sarah Palin for telling Americans what to eat, because she is suggesting that they have a pretty unhealthy diet as a whole. God forbid.

                                                                                                                              Again, I think that one has to pay very close attention to exactly what is being said. And if the person lobbying against pepper is using pepper, then there is a case to be made. If that person is lobbying for us to get more or even the majority of our food locally, then I am not going to throw out their message because of pepper.

                                                                                                                              1. re: mendogurl

                                                                                                                                I agree with most of what you said. I would be astonished if C.P. didn't source most or all of its meat locally, but the restaurant's wine list does include many non-local wines, which I don't really understand. Lots of local wines appear on the list, too, but not exclusively. http://www.chezpanisse.com/menus/wine...

                                                                                                                                But...I didn't think her house --or at least the kitchen of her house--looked small and nondescript, when it was shown on 60 minutes. That kitchen looked huge. It had a fireplace in it.

                                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                  Her house is about 1500 square feet. Probably three bedrooms. I haven't been in it, but I know it from the outside. She remodeled her kitchen, I saw an interview with her in the kitchen, and no Berkeley Craftsman comes with that kind of kitchen.A lot of people in Berkeley remodel the kitchens (circa 1920's), maybe knock out a wall to expand them. And she has an extensive garden.
                                                                                                                                  I am not making the case that she is a monk, I am just saying that she walks the walk.
                                                                                                                                  Most chefs of her reputation (I should say restrauteur), have five restaurants across the globe, or they're selling frozen food. They go big. She has Chez Panisse and a very small cafe (Cafe Fanny), both in Berkeley.

                                                                                                                                  I am not surprised that the wine list is not only California wines. Berkeleyans are huge wine drinkers and probably wouldn't go for only Cali wines. I can't think of anytime I have been there where the meat came from further than 50 miles away.

                                                                                                                                  But I love that dessert on any given night might be made from something off a tree in someone's backyard two blocks away.

                                                                                                                                  I think it is hard to find a way to paint her as hypocritical. I think people can legitimately find her annoying, or may just not agree with her point of view. No argument there. I have to say I wouldn't want to work for her.
                                                                                                                                  but that is totally off topic I suppose.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Kagemusha

                                                                                                                                    Read both. I don't know, it seems like show boat writing. there was somebody else recently who wrote something similar in the WSJ.
                                                                                                                                    Find a place in society that doesn't have some sort of elitist interpretation. I am sure there are Nascar elitists. Anti elitist, elitists.
                                                                                                                                    If one does not agree that industrial farming is harmful to animals, the earth or humans, they are certainly entitled to that opinion. I can't think of one political movement that does not inspire outrage among those who disagree with it. Global warning anyone?
                                                                                                                                    Personally, I don't think that lobbying for healthy food and living wages is elitist.
                                                                                                                                    But that is just my opinion.

                                                                                                                                    For me, growing my own food and buying my meat from small farmer/ranchers is a political act, not because I searching out the most perfect, precious ingredient for my perfect, precious dish. However, if someone else's art form is creating that perfect dish, so be it.I do it because I refuse to give my money to those who make there money pushing unhealthy food on those who do not have the money or resources to eat anything else.
                                                                                                                                    The argument that unhealthy food is a good thing because it is cheap is to me the worst kind of exploitation. The fight should not be against those who are arguing for fresh, healthy food for everyone, it should be against those who are willing to accept the worst for the economically disadvantaged, because that's all they can afford.
                                                                                                                                    What complete b.s.
                                                                                                                                    THAT is elitist in my book.

                                                                                                      3. re: johnb

                                                                                                        I've read that, too, and eschew them for that reason, but also because dining on fresh tomatoes when there's snow and ice on the ground just ain't right. I rely on canned tomatoes this time of year, or obstain altogether. I really don't mind waiting until it's tomato season, but I know that's not for everyone. Sometimes you just have a craving and you gotta have it.

                                                                                                        Mario Batali explained the concept of scorpacciata in this video on CNN: http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2010/09/10/s...

                                                                                                        Before I saw this video, I didn't realize there was a word for it, but it's how I feel about tomatoes, basil, corn, canteloupe, strawberries and the other delights of summer. Wait, wait, wait until they are ready, then indulge until you're sick of them, and then wait, wait, wait until the season comes 'round again.

                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                          I actually do mostly use canned tomatoes in the winter. But sometimes I just need a fresh tomato in the winter and I'm glad to have the option. As for corn, cantaloupe, strawberries etc. I almost never buy those fresh in the winter. They just don't taste good.

                                                                                                          1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                            Exactly. They don't taste good. Personally, I don't love hothouse tomatoes, either, but as I said above, I understand that sometimes you just have a craving and you gotta have it, even if you know it's not as good as the ones you pick from your garden in summer. I am almost always disappointed, though, when I have a fresh tomato in February and am sorry I did. I pick them off of salads and out of sandwiches, etc., when I go to restaurants in February, too.

                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                              There's no question that the hot house tomatoes can't compare to Jersey tomatoes in season. But they are SO much better than the anemic pink things we used to see when I was a kid that I'm not going to complain about them. Just glad to have 'em.

                                                                                                              1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                Interesting thread. It seems that people are coming from a couple of different points of view on this topic.
                                                                                                                From a purely consumer/foodie view, does local food taste better?
                                                                                                                From a green view, does it have an impact on your carbon footprint?
                                                                                                                Lastly how does it impact the local consumer if there isn't a significant amount of local options.

                                                                                                                Here's my two cents. First of all I live in Southern California in a small town next door to LA, so I can grow year round. And that's what I do. I tried the 100 mile diet, to see how close I could get.
                                                                                                                I took from it everything I could, and left what I wasn't willing to do. I drink tea and use sugar, wasn't willing to give those things up, nor was I willing to give up olive oil or maple syrup, or flour. But I eat all those things way less than I used to, because I learned that we could continue to eat VERY well with less of that in my diet.
                                                                                                                I gave up bananas, and so far my family hasn't noticed (two years later). I refuse to buy produce from overseas.
                                                                                                                I gave up processed food ten years ago.

                                                                                                                And I grow my own produce so that I am not forced to buy produce from other countries. (Not just because of the environmental impact, but because of the political impact) Actually I grow produce for three families and the local food bank. I buy my meat from a local rancher. I raise my own chickens.
                                                                                                                I can my crop, so that I am making tomato sauce in the winter from tomatoes I grew in the summer. I can or freeze everything, I use an old fridge as a root cellar for storing onions, garlic, potatoes, etc.

                                                                                                                It is a commitment. We eat very, very, very well, because we are foodies who like food, a lot. Between our three families sharing the crop, we spend less on food than people who just buy at the store.

                                                                                                                I still fly, a lot. Part of my job. But my goal is not to attain perfection, and if I can't attain that impossible standard I don't believe that I shouldn't do whatever I can. It all makes a difference. If everyone does SOMETHING, it is better than doing NOTHING.

                                                                                                                It is all about ( like just about everything in life), moderation. Do what you can.
                                                                                                                Can everyone grow food in their yard for three families, year round, of course not. But everyone can grow something, even in a window box on an apartment fire escape.

                                                                                                                THAT is why the food conglomerates are stumbling all over themselves to prove that they are" local ", (Frito Lay of all things !!!!!!), trying to get in on the trend. Because it is a threat to their way of doing business.
                                                                                                                And that is ultimately my personal goal. To unlock the death grip of the behemouth food conglomerates on the health of the world.

                                                                                                                1. re: mendogurl

                                                                                                                  One of the things I love most about what you wrote is the return to self-reliance. I think that's a great trend and I'm all for it. Good for you. :)

                                                                                                                  That said, I'm not giving up my bananas.

                                                                                                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                    I had an amazing piece of banana cream pie the other day. Delicious.
                                                                                                                    :)

                                                                                                                    It is about self reliance, it's about teaching my children what food means and what it represents, and it is definitely about not wanting to support the exploitation of the planet and of other human beings. But I grew up around political puritans and I know when it can go to extremes that are impossible for most people to attain.
                                                                                                                    You have to make goals attainable for most people, not make them so far reaching that they don't even want to try.
                                                                                                                    Plus, it just feels damned good to eat food you grew yourself. I think we have lost track of what that means. What it means to have the ability to feed yourself. To not be helpless and dependent on a corporation to keep you alive.

                                                                                                                    1. re: mendogurl

                                                                                                                      "You have to make goals attainable for most people, not make them so far reaching that they don't even want to try.
                                                                                                                      Plus, it just feels damned good to eat food you grew yourself. I think we have lost track of what that means. What it means to have the ability to feed yourself. To not be helpless and dependent on a corporation to keep you alive."

                                                                                                                      Are you taking the position that having everyone grow their own food is an attainable goal?

                                                                                                                      1. re: johnb

                                                                                                                        In mendogurl's defense, she did acknowledge earlier that she realizes that not everyone can do what she is doing.

                                                                                                                        1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                          She seemed to imply that if everyone grew something in their yard, or a window box, that would be an effective way to break the "deathgrip of the corporations on our lives." Do you think that is a viable, or even a effective symbolic, strategy?

                                                                                                                          1. re: johnb

                                                                                                                            Unless you live in a place that gets absolutely no sun, not on one single window, you can grow food. A window box can provide leafy greens. If that is not possible there are community gardens all over the place, and virtually every neighborhood could have one. There are community gardens in every city in this country. There could very easily be community gardens in the suburbs.

                                                                                                                            So it is possible if this country had an investment in healthy food for everyone. But it doesn't. The food lobbyists would make sure that money to invest in such programs wouldn't even make it to the floor of the house. And most people are not going to bother growing their own food when they can buy an entire meal at McDonalds's for under a dollar.

                                                                                                                            I am not implying that it is a viable or effective strategy, I am saying that I believe that it is an effective an viable strategy.
                                                                                                                            Do I believe it will happen. Not for a minute.

                                                                                                                            The majority of people see themselves as powerless and ineffective. So they just accept what is in front of them.

                                                                                                                            1. re: mendogurl

                                                                                                                              You seem to be saying that there needs to be government money, tax money, needed to grow food. With tax money comes control.

                                                                                                                            2. re: johnb

                                                                                                                              I didn't say I agreed with everything she wrote. I just pointed out that she wasn't expecting everyone to do exactly what she is doing.

                                                                                                                              And I know that personally, I'm not looking to plant a garden any time soon. I do grow stuff like herbs, some peppers, but I really enjoy going to the farmer's markets in season and I want to support our local growers as much as I can because I'd rather see farms than yet another mcmansion development. And I can't do both - just don't need that much food for three people.

                                                                                                                            3. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                              No way that everyone can do what I am doing. Both my husband and I work at home, we have almost an acre of land and we are not poor.

                                                                                                                              But there are amazing community gardens just down the street from us. And there are community gardens all over Los Angeles. I know a family that is growing enough produce to feed their family, in containers in their driveway. People are tearing up their front lawns and growing food.
                                                                                                                              It is possible. Maybe not for absolutely everyone, but for a vast majority.

                                                                                                                              They were once called Victory Gardens.

                                                                                                                              1. re: mendogurl

                                                                                                                                This is a genuine question, not at all trying to diminish what you and others are trying to accomplish, but I have to say, I love the idea of all of Southern California tearing out lawns to to replace them with native, drought resistant landscaping, but I'm a little uncomfortable with everyone putting in vegetable gardens. Can the water supply handle that? I'm guessing the population and water demands in California were lower in Victory Garden days.

                                                                                                                                I'm wondering if small, family operated farms might be more efficient, water and other resource-wise, as well as fertilizers running into the rivers and lakes and such, and that's partly why I do NOT grow a ton of vegetables. I grow herbs, rhubarb, and baby greens, and the occasional volunteer tomato or squash that survives my vermiculture bin, but that's it.

                                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                  Well, you grow only as much as you need. Everyone doesn't have to have a FARM. Just a small garden. And a drip irrigation system set up properly in a vegetable garden uses WAAAAY less water than lawn sprinklers.
                                                                                                                                  Most people here have lawns, which cannot survive without constant watering, because there is so little rain.
                                                                                                                                  The best thing is for everyone to move out of this non sustainable dessert, but that is not going to happen and it is one of those unrealistic goals I was talking about.

                                                                                                                                  Community farms are perfect. That's what we do. Three family's get all of their produce and eggs from our property, and share in the work and the expense.

                                                                                                                                  We don't use fertilizers so that is not an issue. Everything is organic, so no chemicals in runoff.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: mendogurl

                                                                                                                                    Personally, unless there's some serious education going into all of this, I'd prefer to see small family farms and community gardens, organized by people who know what they're doing thrive (and you do sound to me like you know what you're doing), than all of urban and suburban California gardening in its front lawn. I do believe in the benefit of some economies of scale, especially when it comes to water distribution issues.

                                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                2. re: mendogurl

                                                                                                                                  Do what you can. Who can object to that? With a foot of snow in my yard and the temp a balmy14F, not much is possible just outside Toronto. Still, I get local storage apples, cider, spuds, chickens, pork and beef--even beer--from nearby sources. Things expand in the all-too-short summer but a little research turned up a surprising range of local stuff. Not perfect but also reduced dependence on supermarkets. It's the fetishistic side of the locavore thing that I can't stomach.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Kagemusha

                                                                                                                                    Agree on all points!!!!!!!
                                                                                                                                    Do what you can.

                                                                                                                                    And that is probably more than you think, and definitely more than nothing.
                                                                                                                                    Some people can do more, some people can do less. But everyone does something.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: mendogurl

                                                                                                                                    "So it is possible if this country had an investment in healthy food for everyone. But it doesn't. The food lobbyists would make sure that money to invest in such programs wouldn't even make it to the floor of the house."

                                                                                                                                    "It is possible. Maybe not for absolutely everyone, but for a vast majority."

                                                                                                                                    "The majority of people see themselves as powerless and ineffective. So they just accept what is in front of them."

                                                                                                                                    ================

                                                                                                                                    So if I understand correctly, you believe that it is a physical possibility the vast majority of people in the United States could grow their own food, and that the main reason why this is not how things turned out is lobbying by the food industry?

                                                                                                                                    Also, as a small aside, may I ask you to fill in a little detail, about that family that is growing enough produce to feed their family in containers in their driveway. Since you say you know them, it would be interesting to know how many are in the family, and how many containers exactly?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: johnb

                                                                                                                                      Yes, I believe it is physically possible. There are very few people who have absolutely no sunlight or air available to them. There are roof top gardens starting all over this country in the heart of the most urban neighborhoods. People are raising chickens in New York City, goats in Oakland California.

                                                                                                                                      Why would agribusiness and the food industries conceivably want people to know how to grow their own food???

                                                                                                                                      It is a family of 6. They have turned their driveway into a mini farm. They have eight 4x8 raised beds going from one end of the driveway to the other, and at one end they have a small chicken coop where they keep eight chickens.
                                                                                                                                      They don't have an orchard so they do buy their fruit from the local farmers market.

                                                                                                                                      A few blocks from us there is an old estate in a very dicey area that a young couple bought really cheap. They now have a small farm, raising a ton of produce. They also have about a dozen goats, and are now making award winning goat cheese, and they sell their goat milk at a monthly "Urban Farmers Market" they hold on the property. Everyone in the neighborhood who grows vegetables and fruit, or makes preserves, bakes, cooks, brings their goods to sell.

                                                                                                                                      I also belong to a community swap, those of us who raise food, meet twice a month to swap produce with each other. So if I am not growing any particular food, I can swap something I grow with someone who does.
                                                                                                                                      It's ten kinds of awesome.

                                                                                                                                      There are also about 5 of us neighborhood "farms", who go in together to buy chickens, chicken feed, and other supplies, so we can buy in bulk for better pricing.

                                                                                                                                      There are so many possibilities...

                                                                                                                                    2. re: mendogurl

                                                                                                                                      "The result of victory gardening? The US Department of Agriculture estimates that more than 20 million victory gardens were planted. Fruit and vegetables harvested in these home and community plots was estimated to be 9-10 million tons, an amount equal to all commercial production of fresh vegetables. So, the program made a difference."

                                                                                                                                      http://www.livinghistoryfarm.org/farm...

                                                                                                                                      I think the history and tales of victory gardens are inspiring.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                        Yes, it is not exactly some radical new idea. And people are doing it all over this country.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: mendogurl

                                                                                                                                          Yup. I do it and so do most of my friends. Almost every home on our street has a small garden of some type (although I am in a rural area).

                                                                                                                                          Cute story: I visited a mobile home park for Seniors last summer and was amazed to see hanging pots of tomato, sprawling squash, lettuce, etc and pots of herbs -all over the old folks mobile home "porches" and tiny side yards! Almost every trailer had them. Apparently, the on-site manager encouraged it and offered help to lug the potting soil and containers up steps. That was all they needed. No more petunias for them!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                            You know, I was thinking about this while I was at the grocery store. I was thinking about how much everything has changed for my family. What seemed like a giant pain in the a., we don't even think about anymore.
                                                                                                                                            My husband thought I was completely insane when I wanted 6 chickens, now we have 14, because he and our two kids refuse to eat store bought.
                                                                                                                                            When I put in my enormous garden, that would provide way more than my family could eat, I just kept saying to my self, I am definitely insane, but if you build it they will come. Now we are feeding three families and donating to the local food bank.
                                                                                                                                            I just went to the grocery store and all I bought was milk and cheese. It even surprises me.
                                                                                                                                            When we gave up breakfast cereal, I thought making a hot breakfast every morning before school, was going to kill me. Now I don't even think about it.
                                                                                                                                            Baking bread and putting up my fruit and vegetables? Same thing.

                                                                                                                                            The average American watches 6 hours a day of television. I spend about two,
                                                                                                                                            working in the garden or cooking, baking, and preserving. Last night a made a dozen jars of applesauce while I was making dinner. It is now effortless, but it wasn't when I started.

                                                                                                                                            I think if you can just see that it is possible, and eventually isn't really a big deal,and you are willing to learn a new way of doing things, it all opens up. That is, if you are interested in living that way, or you see value in it. If you don't, and you don't have a problem with the food you are buying, more power to you, to each his own.

                                                                                                                                            I have my own opinion about what the impact of of few billion people doing that will have on my grandchildren, but I am not going to preach to people, there is no point. People need to come to things on their own, or they don't.

                                                                                                                                            But does all that make me one of those annoying locavores???? Have I become Alice waters?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: mendogurl

                                                                                                                                              Well, that's how I live in MN when the ground isn't frozen solid. We buy our bison, poultry, and pork directly from the producer, an animal or quarter animal at a time. (We freeze it and defrost as we need it.) We get all of our produce from our CSA (who I think can grow vegetables on a larger scale more efficiently, responsibly, and organically than I can in the city on a small scale), except for our herbs and rhubarb. We have family members who keep bees and can jams and jellies. We can salsa, spaghetti sauce, and chicken stock that we swap with those people. We get our grains, dairy, coffee, oil, chocolate from our co-op and occasionally from the farmers market. If we have excess produce because we don't have time to can or freeze the excess, we give it to neighbors, family, co-workers.

                                                                                                                                              I'm not Alice Waters as far as I can tell. :).

                                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                              1. re: mendogurl

                                                                                                                                                I think though, that part of the problem is just that - there are billions of people in the world and they all need to be fed. And a heck of a lot of those people live in cities, etc, where it is just not possible to grow enough food to feed all of those people. There really is no way to get around the fact that there is an enormous population which requires an ennormous amount of food.

                                                                                                                                                And the bad news is that with so much corn being diverted to ethanol production, food costs are going up for everybody which just makes things even worse for all those poor people you wrote about.

                                                                                                                                                And I would point

                                                                                                                                                1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                  According to the NYT, the pressure on global food prices in the near future isn't going to be ethanol. It's going to be the very severe drought in China. :(

                                                                                                                                                  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/09/bus...

                                                                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                    I posted the NYT piece the other day with no reaction apart from yours. This could be a catastrophe for the huge numbers who already spend large chunks of small incomes on food, especially when the Chinese start bidding up prices. Shades of Malthus.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Kagemusha

                                                                                                                                                      That article made me want to go out and grocery shop in order to stockpile this weekend. :( Or, we can all fly to Southern California and move in with mendogurl and hope she has enough excess to feed us all!

                                                                                                                                                      It is a scary, scary situation. I do think global climate change is real and that's one example of it. And, turns out, the global economy is real, too. Interesting times we live in.

                                                                                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                        I don't think there are very many people who don't think that climate change is "real." The argument has always been how much of the change is due to human activity.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                          I hesitate to go all apocalyptic, BUT I want my children to know how to feed themselves. Forget the four horseman stuff, we live in California, earthquake country. I don't want my kids standing outside of some electric door at the supermarket and the only way they have to get food is a debit card.

                                                                                                                                                          It's not my primary focus, I am not some sort of survivalist, but better safe than sorry.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mendogurl

                                                                                                                                                            I don't blame you. And, I totally get the apocalyptic perspective (see family #2 the example I gave up-thread somewhere), but I'd also be concerned about a safe and sustainable water supply, if a catastrophic earthquake is what you're preparing for. Catastrophe aside, I think it's great you're teaching your children how to grow their own food. It's very satisfying.

                                                                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                        There are plenty of articles out there that say that ethanol production is a major component of upward pressure on food prices.

                                                                                                                                                        http://moneymorning.com/2011/01/28/u....

                                                                                                                                                        http://www.news4jax.com/money/2683375...

                                                                                                                                                        Our most valuable food export is corn.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                          I'm not denying the ethanol issue, but that's been ongoing for awhile. The Chinese drought issue is pretty new.

                                                                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                      3. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                        Which is yet another reason why I feel that it is important that those of us who have the resources do not deplete what others can use.
                                                                                                                                                        I heard today on the radio that in most countries the populace spends 80% of their income on food. Staggering.

                                                                                                                                                      4. re: mendogurl

                                                                                                                                                        Do you grow your own wheat for flour too????

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                          No, I wish I could, but that would really veer over to the crazy territory. I don't really have a "farm", I have an acre in a typical neighborhood.
                                                                                                                                                          I do want at some point to buy grain and grind my own flour, but that is pretty far down the list.

                                                                                                                                                          Both my husband and I work and have two kids. can't do it all.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: mendogurl

                                                                                                                                        I'm surprised you can't get olive oil locally. No olive groves in SoCal?

                                                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                          Oh yeah. Sciabica; http://www.sciabica.com/ That's where we get our oil. It's not local to us but it's a whole lot closer than imports. And it's good.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                            Not exactly bargain priced, but I get my California olive oil from these guys: http://www.globalgardensonline.com/pr...

                                                                                                                                            As a Southern Californian who lives within easy walking distance of three different farmers markets; and whose membership in produce and meat CSAs, along with Santa Ynez olive oil and wine clubs, means that large portion of my diet comes from a 200 mile radius, eating locally takes hardly any effort at all. I had to make the decision to do things this way, rather than heading to Ralphs or Trader Joe's. But choosing to eat locally has meant more than better quality food. I also spend less time in the lines and cart-choked aisles of grocery stores. Win-Win.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: LaPomme

                                                                                                                                              That olive oil, and the one morwen uses, both look good. We definitely can't get local olive oil in MN.

                                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                The Sciabica orchard is entirely on the other side of the country from us so it's definitely not local. I started looking around for another source when the news came out about adulterated olive oil imports and found them. What sucked me into trying their oil was their 100% money back guarantee and their immediate and personal response to my emails. I'm not a hard core locavore, but being able to source a very good product that I wasn't willing to do without inside the US is a closer fit with my attempt to source foodstuffs that we must buy as close to home as possible. I'll be checking out LaPomme's link too.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: morwen

                                                                                                                                                  Oh, I'm sorry, for some reason I thought it was a CA EVOO. Actually, the principles established by the gals who coined the term "locavore" said included one that was along the lines, "And if you eat outside of your foodshed, get the best." So, in my opinion, you're still a locavore within the original guidelines!

                                                                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: morwen

                                                                                                                                                    I buy McEvoy olive oil, made just outside San Francisco.