Friday, June 18, 2010

A Locavore Lesson

I'd be lying if I called myself a locavore. No it's not a typo - my blog title is a fabricated term "locovore" implying a certain food-related loco en la cabeza-ness - whereas the term locavore refers to a person who eats food grown or produced within their locale. While I am fortunate to live in a region that offers some amazing products - salmon, apples, greens, even amazing chocolate - I still regularly consume bananas, avocados, dates, coconuts, mangos and peaches, none of which would last a day growing in Washington state. Most of the time I don't even think twice about it but on occasion when I feel the need to rationalize those purchases I tell myself that California isn't really that far away (though I was recently told that Seattle to SoCal is like New York to New Orleans so I can't pretend that's anything resembling local). And when I'm not in total denial, I actually do enjoy buying locally at farmer's markets, co-ops and small local businesses, fickle and unpredictable though their selection may be.

This year I feel it more than ever. If you live in the Northwest or are Facebook friends with someone who does you probably know that for the past few months the weather has not been especially pleasant. We had a mild winter with promise of an early spring but mother nature thoughtlessly renegged and we were stuck with months of cold and rainy weather instead. Most locals swear that's normal for this time of year, but with reports that May 2010 was the warmest month on record - like ever - I felt like Seattle, was well, left out in the cold.

As a result of the weather, local farmers had to contend with more rain and later frost than intended, which negatively impacted the early planting, yielding a very different season that last year. I see this weekly now that my CSA has started. Two weeks ago I started to receive my deliveries from our neighbors at Oxbow Farm and the start of this season feels particularly slow. I also remember that this time last year there was an overabundance of cherries on the streets, sold off the backs of trucks and in the supermarkets. I couldn't escape the cherries (nor did I want to!), but not so this year. And that's the difference between a locavore and someone who shops for the same produce all year long at Whole Foods. When you're relying on local agriculture you eat seasonally and have to subject yourself to the whims of climate and nature. You may have expectations but there is always the possibility of disappointment, of learning that plants that didn't grow as expected. (Where were the figs this year??) I admire the locavores' sheer willingness to subject themselves to such uncertainty when easier, more convenient options exist. But within their principled purchasing lies an important lesson, one that I could learn from: let go of expectations and simply be grateful for what is.


  1. Seattle to LA is more like NYC to Des Moines, IA

  2. An important lesson....beautifully put!