The kind of locavores I like are the sensible ones. You know the kind who will serve you Florida grapefruit in Boston, in winter.
Now a true locavore will stick with only locally grown foods, meaning in Boston winters we'd be limited to root vegetables from a cellar. I'm not actually certain where they'd come down on hydroponics or greenhouse grown. I know I've read that for most greenhouses, there are other issues which make some sustainability experts look at them askance.
I like to talk about Sensible Sustainability (maybe I should ™ that?)
Here's the idea: it's better to have ten people making small changes than to have one person being totally, perfect in their execution of the sustainable/organic/local/ethical eating lifestyle. If we're interested in making changes for the health of our local environments, for the global environment (not that the two are actually separable), then many food activists would have us eschew any food that does not come from our local food shed. That is, if it doesn't grow near you or is out of season, forego it.
While I understand that goal, I also choose to support small family farms, organic farms that are doing the right thing, even if it's far from me. I think we all should make informed choices and be thoughtful about them. So I won't eat a tomato in February. I'll wait for the luxury of a locally grown summer tomato. I'll enjoy my root vegetables (have you tried roasted brussels sprouts yet?) and I'll also enjoy the occasional citrus in winter. But I'll try to make sure it's from an organic farm at least. That's my compromise. I'll buy rice that doesn't grow near Boston, but it's an organic heirloom varietal from Koda Family Farm.
The citrus I've enjoyed lately include Florida grapefruit, Cara Cara oranges, Meyer Lemons and some Blood Oranges. I try to balance the non-local choices in other ways, so that on the whole, I feel I'm making progress. I'm eating less beef. I try to reduce, reuse, even if I don't recycle. I cut down on food waste and packaging. I don't buy much that's highly processed.
Another option for "Eating Green"
For those who want to take more action, here's a great resource. Family Green Survival is an interesting program that's kind of hard to wrap your head around, at first. When I first read a blurb about the man who founded it, I thought "what's he selling?" The answer, surprisingly, is nothing.
He doesn't want us to wear his T shirts proclaiming our green cred, or to buy his water bottles, or his wrist bands, or send donations. He wants us to take simple actions and to reflect.
Family Green Survival is designed for participants to show deep personal commitment to ‘green living’ and to develop empathy for the world’s low income and poor population. They will send recipes and guidelines to help you make this step.
Gopal K. Kapur, the founder of the program, encourages empathy, not guilt. And action and reflection, rather than complacency or indifference. For example, take one day per month. Just one day. Eat as much of world does: with no prepared foods, no plastic or paper products, no microwaves or even stoves. Minimally processed, as close to farm-to-table as possible, focus on vegetables.
In this way, we can reduce our waste, calm our lives, for just one day. We can take a break from our normal harried and often wasteful food preparation methods. Then we can reflect on the impacts of our food choices.
I was prompted to think about this program once again, when I read Ali at Ethicurean's post about the near debilitating anger she faced and how volunteering at a local soup kitchen helped to heal that anger.
Ali cites a US Food Policy blog on hunger:
- At some point in 2007, 11.1% of U.S. households were food insecure.
- In a 30-day period, 6.3% of households were food insecure.
- Fifty percent more U.S. children went hungry in 2007 than in the previous year.
And we food writers can rail against high fructose corn syrup and processed foods but some people will happily eat the food we warn against. They don't have a choice. Family Green Survival is about walking the talk. Being the change. It's one way. It's worth reading about and reflecting on, even if you don't take the challenge.