04 August 2005

Eating Locally - Very Locally

A recent domestic discussion finds my household trying a food experiment. For one week, we're buying no food*. No meals out, no snacks, no ice cream (on what turns out to be the hottest week of the year!). Instead, we're eating out of our fridge, our cupboards, our freezer, our garden.

Five days into our self-imposed food seige, I'm feeling pretty chipper. Sure, we've run out of quick snacks, which is driving me a little buggy. But I made a batch of hummus this morning (add tahini and olives to that shopping list) and plan to do a stir-fry for dinner tonight. We're probably not anything like the normal US household; we don't eat out a lot anyway, and don't buy much processed food or meat. But this is pushing our creativity further.

I wonder how my ancestors survived without stores and refrigeration. Heck, I wonder how so many people today do. Even in dense urban areas, many people depend on the land and water for their daily food. Today the authorities declared that people should not eat critters from Seattle's Duwamish River. Many of these urban hunter-gatherers are immigrants, and may have few alternatives.

In the long run, we need to clean up the Duwamish and local equivalents everywhere. We need to put our attentions (and our money) toward building local chains of supply, though Community Supported Agriculture packages with local farms, sustainable hunting and fishing policies, and better understanding of the true costs of importing "cheap" food from elsewhere. Bill McKibbon emphasizes this kind of focus on local issues in the latest Orion Magazine.

Meanwhile, I need to go see if I can get a few more veggies from the garden for dinner. And I've got a few more things to add to next week's shopping list.

* We made an exception for three key fresh staples we were about out of: yogurt, flour, and milk.

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