Wednesday, May 9, 2007

What's on your exceptions list?

I have to say, I'm really excited (because I love it when the world spins the way I want it to) about the increasing degree to which our national conversation about food is one about ethics and politics and economics and conscience. I know that I can't go to the grocery store without a cause for soul searching. This latest time, though my cart was filled with unprocessed virtue from some angles, from where I was standing almost everything in it came from too far away. Mangoes. Coffee. Fresh raspberries (for the husband, who otherwise almost never asks for fruit), fennel.

I know you've read them too, the articles about the melamine, the formaldehyde in our tofu, the vanishing honeybees. "I'm not a vegetarian," my old friend N. said the other day, "I just don't really eat meat anymore." Even my neighborhood listserv is in a huff, the soon-to-be Fresh Directies defending their desire for canned goods and paper towels (and hey, they do have a 'Local Foods' category) from the disapproval of new CSA recruits.

The question is, what are you going to do? One option that I am close to adopting as my incremental paradigm shift for the summer is to take this year's Eat Local Challenge for the month of September. It will come as no surprise that the original organizer of this and like minded events hailed from the Bay Area, where they could probably define their foodshed in such as way as to include mangoes, avocados and lemons. But they also encourage people to make reasonable exceptions (coffee & spices are common, but anything you can't imagine living without qualifies) rather than dismiss the challenge out of hand. And by September we'll have our own fennel, tomatoes, and if not raspberries, at least apples and peaches.

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