Tuesday, July 22, 2008

This just doesn't seem natural, but I guess that depends on how you define "natural"

So, we've been reading and hearing a lot lately about eating locally, and some of the newest concepts and business models associated with the phenomenon were the topic of a New York Times story today. The story is by Kim Severson, and it reports on manifestations of the locavore trend such as having a vegetable garden planted and tended in one's own yard -- by someone else; owning a share in a cow; and ordering from a caterer's "100-mile-menu." It's the most emailed story on the NYT website right now, more than 24 hours after it was first posted.

Here's how the story ends:

The author Barbara Kingsolver, whose book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” was a best seller last year, did not have the lazy locavore in mind when she wrote about the implications of making her family spend a year eating local. But she celebrates the trend.

“As a person of rural origin who has lived much of my life in rural places,” she said, “I can’t tell you how joyful it makes me to hear that it’s trendy for people in Manhattan to own a part of a cow.”

I'm a big fan of Kingsolver's and I'm all for good food and for being environmentally conscious, but I don't know that I can say news of these endeavors brings me joy. I guess I'm inherently suspect of -- and at least a little put off by --anything that strikes me as faux rural, which these as-long-as-you-don't-get-your-hands-dirty food trends surely do. Does it make you a farmer if you pay someone to grow a plot of vegetables on your land? I don't think so. Does it permit you to claim virtue by association with agrarian myths? Perhaps. Is it a good thing IF it reduces your carbon foot-print? Absolutely.

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