by Jen Maiser
Amy Stewart's commentary on NPR's All Things Considered this week was a topic of conversation among ELC blog authors this week. While Ms. Stewart believes that we should all "shut up and eat," I hardly think that many of us will be following her directive anytime soon. Michael Pollan often speaks about the magic of voting with our forks. Unlike major, huge, unsurmountable issues that our world faces, food issues are something that we all decide on many times a day. I personally choose to put my hard-earned money in the hands of local farmers and local cheesemakers and local artisans over international conglomerates and mega-corporations.
Ms. Stewart suggests that instead of focusing on where our food comes from, we should try taking public transportation or turning down the thermostat. Most of us who are conscious enough to focus on where our food comes from don't turn off that consciousness when it comes to these sort of things -- we tend to tread lightly on the earth in many ways.
While I suspect that Ms. Stewart was trying to be sensationalist and contrarian about some of the pedantic, minutia-oriented conversations that can occur around food (and that many of us tire of at some point), I don't think that an overarching declaration against eating local is the answer.
Below, you'll find some opinions from other ELC authors around the nation. Check them out -- I think they're fantastic.
from Liz (Maine):
No doubt local eating is old news where you live in California, the land of plenty. But it is an absolute triumph that the rest of America is finally paying attention to what goes on its dinner plate. Please don't begrudge us Mainers or Michiganders or Minnesotans for finally catching on to what you savvy Californians have known all along: that fresher foods taste better. What's more is that we're finding we can produce our food just as well, if not better than your fine state, cutting out the factory farms, middlemen, and days of travel on the way.
I don't often dole out advice, Amy, but it seems like you need to either find some non-foodie friends or start talking up some new cause. If it goes well, the rest of us should be buzzing about it in 2013. Until then, I will continue to celebrate the foods of my state with my friends and family. Don't worry, I'll make sure not to invite you to the dinner party.
from Jennifer BB (Syracuse, NY):
Bringing the place of food into proper perspective is one of the biggest challenges we face as a society. But to decry what is essentially a clarion call to a better relationship with food is misguided. If she wants to rant against the self-righteous air that some of the locavore conversation can take then I would support her there -- but that doesn't require killing the entire conversation.
from Jeanne (Marin County, CA):
Thanks for letting us all know that we've been all been staring out our fuzzy Frog Hollow peachy navels for too long.
Did someone take care of ensuring every region and state across our country has access to a local farm system that ensures food security and that enviromental impact is being managed. All done? All those folks working on the Farm Bill can just pack up their notebooks and laptops and go home--school kids everywhere are no longer lacking for quality food. Terrific. Oh and let us know how that whole connection of disease to what we eat thing worked out.
I do wish this was as simple as you suggest. But we don't live in silos and we are all connected to each other, to the food we eat and the enviroment that we live in. It's messy. It's not easy. Often times we need to look at the entire buffet to see what everyone is or in this case isn't eating on their plates. And could you do something about Iraq, the polar bears, and Britney? I'm super tired about hearing about them, too.
from Expat Chef (Kansas City, MO)
(an excerpt from this post)
Does it truly make sense to just shut up and eat 30 million pounds of tainted meat? To idly push our grocery carts along the aisles filled with cheap processed foods that won’t break the bank account but bankrupt our nation nutritionally and environmentally? Wow, that’s a lot to swallow, Ms. Stewart.
I suppose if this approach makes sense, then I should also just quit thinking about global warming every time I hop into my SUV to drive a mile to the grocery store to buy peanut butter contaminated with Salmonella. After all, I am tired of hearing all the alarming news about global warming. It’s everywhere. Why can’t I just keep the pedal to the metal without all that bothersome stress and anxiety?
Though, you are correct, Ms. Stewart, all this thinking sure does put a lot of stress and anxiety on that lettuce leaf of yours. But that may no longer be a worry. If we just don’t talk about the new Federal regulations for lettuce growers, you won’t be able to purchase lettuce from sustainable local sources anyway.
However, Ms. Stewart, if you’d like to shut up about local food, hey, I’m all for it.