Tuesday, January 03, 2012

December tomatoes

Once again, we're hearing about the nefarious consumer demand for out-of-season produce, specifically tomatoes. Once again, I'm going to ask why we frame things in such terms. The individual consumer is not demanding that the supermarket stock tomatoes in December. The individual consumer goes to the supermarket in December and finds tomatoes. The individual consumer, in order not to demand-in-the-economic-sense tomatoes, would need to boycott those tomatoes. The question then arises: in favor of what? Apples and kale do sound like things one should be able to eat in gray weather in the Northeast without offending anyone's sensibilities, but those are shipped in from Washington State and California, respectively.

I know I've blogged this sort of thing before, but as I can't remember what the offending produce item was the last time around, I can't properly search for it. But I will go on repeating myself on this until the food movement decides what, precisely, is an acceptable and feasible way to get groceries, for those of us who aren't about to grow their own fruit-and-veg all summer long and freeze it for the winter in some kind of industrial-size freezer that everyone but me apparently has in their home. Until they work on fixing things higher up, and let up on asking individual consumers to turn what are already substantial demands (cook at home more, eat more fruits and vegetables) into all-consuming research projects.

Another "enough" is that I'd like to see an end to demands that "we" eat local, that come from people who a) live in/around Berkeley, and/or b) travel so much that they get an exciting, varied diet by eating locally in a wide range of locales, perhaps where they've jetted off on book tours to promote some treatise on how important it is to eat local. The issue isn't so much the hypocrisy of jet travel and environmentalism (sometimes a message needs to be spread, and someone's got to do it), but the fact that to truly eat local, and in only one locale, would be bleak to a degree that food writers couldn't even imagine.

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