Thursday, September 13, 2007

Slate gets it wrong

From Slate's In Other Magazine's feature, about a piece in New York magazine:

An enterprising New Yorker tells the hilarious, fascinating story of creating a tiny farm in his 800-square-foot Brooklyn back yard. To put to the test the arguments of the "locavore" movement—that people should eat only what's grown within a few miles of their home—he planned to live exclusively off the farm for one month.

Okay, I'm going to make this really simple so that everyone can understand: Locavores don't think people should eat only what's grown within a few miles of their home. Rather, locavores think that people should try, whenever possible, to choose food grown closer to home rather than food grown further away. That might mean making a number of adjustments to the usual American way of eating, such as 1) growing your own, 2) buying directly from local farmers rather than from supermarkets, 3) choosing local ingredients like honey or mussels instead of exotics like sugar or Chilean sea bass. What it doesn't mean is never eating a chocolate bar again, or drawing a five-mile-wide circle around your house and trying to live on what's produced within. Sure, people have done that sort of thing (although "a few miles" is usually 100 or 200 or 500), but as an exercise, a test, an exploration. That's why they call it the Eat Local Challenge. I fear that the Challenge has suffered from its own success and come to represent the locavore movement overall to a degree that is inappropraite. To say the locavore movement is about the Eat Local Challenge is like saying that being healthy is about running marathons. Not even marathoners think everyone should run a marathon. Most people who do the Eat Local Challenge don't really think other people should necessarily do the same. But marathoners probably do think people should get some exercise, and locavores do think that there are some pretty big advantages to eating food with a local flavor. Let's go through them again, just for the heck of it: transparency of agricultural practices for the consumer, connectedness to the farm community and resulting increased awareness of farm-related issues, decreased fuel dependency, the increased national food security that comes with having many farms over a wide geographical area, rather than just a few concentrated in a couple small areas, cultural preservation of both rural communities around the country and local traditional foods, preservation of at-risk open farmland and vital wildlife corridors, and, of course, really good, really fresh produce.

Are we all clear?


tammy said...

Well said.

Trevor said...

I wish I actually had sun in my small backyard, I'd do the same.