I’m intrigued by the emerging trend toward “locavore” diets–the idea of eating only, or mostly, things grown in your part of the country, however you define “part.” Start reading some food labels, and you may be surprised at how little of your diet comes from nearby. I had 7 items out on the counter the other day, making a salad, and 5 of them came from at least 1,000 miles away.
At least three forces are driving this trend:
1. Higher and higher fuel costs, meaning that someday, it may no longer make economic sense to bring bananas from Costa Rica to Wisconsin, or olives from Spain to Poughkeepsie.
2. Fears of global warming. As we begin, at last, to scrutinize our use of fossil fuels, we may have to cut back from luxury uses to necessity uses, and the Costa Rica-to-Wisconsin banana route may not make the cut.
3. Alarm over problems in the food supply chain, which now stretches across the globe, bringing us staples and goodies from China, Peru, and all points between. The more middlemen involved, especially from countries with lax regulation, like China, the more danger points along the road from field to plate.
The authors of this new book adopted a 100-mile cutoff point and tried to spend a year eating within that perimeter. I haven’t done a full inventory of what I’d have to abandon if I took on that discipline, but one thing jumped out at me fast: I don’t think they grow much coffee in North Texas!