Friday, February 12, 2010

One at a time

The two central messages we now receive about food are to eat more fresh produce and home-cooked meals, and to eat local. These might both be good ideas in general, and in theory compatible. But only in theory. Practically speaking, to introduce them both at once puts consumers accustomed to following neither rule in a bind for much of the year. There are lots of tasty, healthy food options that don't cost much in time or money to prepare, but I doubt if a single one could be prepared from readily-available local ingredients. The farmers' markets now have zilch. It's not just about greedy sorts who can't get through a few months without berries and asparagus. Even a home cook armed with a virtuous-sounding seasonal recipe will, post-Whole-Foods, end up with a canvas tote full of Californian kale. As convenient as it would be if we could fight obesity and promote local foods all in one go, even in winter, the only way I see this happening is if the local cheese and chocolate is too expensive to get fat on. Which it certainly is.

So maybe a better route would be first to encourage one, then, once that became the default, to start the campaign for the other. My vote would be to get people used to the idea of cooking and of eating non-crap, and once there's a demand for non-crap, looking for the best ways to produce and distribute non-crap, locally or otherwise. Thoughts?

4 comments:

Matt said...

The moral I'd take is that "all things in moderation*" applies to this sort of stuff, too, and that while there's virtue in some of it, there's no sense in making a religion out of it, especially as the benefits of some of it are unclear, at least. Beyond that, there's no reason at all to feel bad about any of it.

*Like Seneca, I believe that even moderation should be taken in moderation, and that one should therefore over-indulge once in a while as well.

Phoebe said...

Matt,

Agreed. The only thing is that these two goals are so often presented as one and the same, part of our current understanding of what it means to improve one's diet. The fact that for all practical purposes they're mutually exclusive all winter long strikes me as a problem.

PG said...

The only thing is that these two goals are so often presented as one and the same, part of our current understanding of what it means to improve one's diet.

Fucking Californians.

Phoebe said...

But they're suffering too! According to the NYT story this blog post so clearly anticipated, they're stuck with only kale, while we have to contend, granted, with only Californian kale. (Luckily that lacinato kind isn't half bad.)