Over at Strange Maps, there’s a new map for the Continent of Synthetics. It’s quite intriguing, a geography of artificially created materials with poetic, if not sort of nightmarish descriptions:
• “Petrolia is the land of the new synthetic rubbers.”
• “Cellulose is a great state, something like Texas, with many counties, all of which grew out of old Nitrocellulose (Celluloid).”
• “Rayon is a plastic island off the Cellulose coast, with a glittering night life.”
• “Vinyl-land, a fast-growing new country of safety-glass (…) and rubbery plastics, will probably subdivide soon.”
All of which makes me think of farm fresh food. As our local Tomato Wars continue (turns out Neighbor Susan isn’t all that much ahead of our harvest of tomatoes), we find ourselves swamped with a vertible cornucopia of fresh tomatoes which we are busy turning into fresh sauce for this winter. We lightly bake them with fresh basil and oregano and then freeze the resulting gumbo in dinner size plastic bags for a deep January taste bud extravaganza reminding us that spring and summer are around the corner. You don’t find tomatoes like this in Petrolia!
But how I got on this topic…I read an article in The Grist about local vs. long distance food resources. This article was based on an article in the NY Times by James McWilliams debunking the idea that local food is better for all concerned and easier on the environment in general. He slices and dices the data and presents some interesting ways of looking at the issue…but I come down squarely on the side of The Grist:
Purchasing locally grown food, as Maiser observes, “is fodder for a wonderful story. Whether it’s the farmer who brings local apples to market or the baker who makes local bread, knowing part of the story about your food is such a powerful part of enjoying a meal.” Buying local builds relationships, almost organically forcing the consumer to become aware of the plight of the producer and the producer to become familiar with the needs of the consumer.
Author David Morris then explores issues of equity to small farmers who depend on foreign buyers of their goods, etc. All good points. There’s undoubtedly a middle ground here where local is the best path for many reasons including community, relationships, importance of story and connectedness–those might seem like “soft” arguments but they’re important to me. And then there are other markets globally that depend on foreign participation to stay afloat. What I’m not thrilled about participating in is the global agri-business that puts local-everything out of business and has little to no accountability, not to mention “story” or community.
That said, neighbor Susan and I had a discussion the other day about buying local and here’s the rub: I’m such a fruit freak. I mean, if there were such a thing as a fruit gourmet, I might qualify. AND I live in Seattle, Washington. I mean, in the winter, there’s not a lot of fruit. Apples, apples, apples. And then Apples. Come Spring and Summer, things open up a bit, but I would do back-flips to get some of the fruit I grew up with in Southern California, and baby, that stuff ain’t local. So, if push came to shove, I guess I’d move. I’d move to a place that grows good (I mean Good) watermelons, for example, and Santa Rosa plums.
So, anyway. It’s the harvest time of the year. I hope you’re enjoying the fruits of the season!
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