Locavore's Dilemma

Photo by Martin Lane Cochran

Locavore is the name of an eater who chooses only locally grown food. I wonder how rigid a practice one would have to adhere to in order to accept this tag? Do you leave behind coffee, chocolate and the various oils and vinegars that are grown by artisan farmers around the world? This time of year I try and gather most of my fruits and vegetables either from my garden or a local farmer. An exception I make (along with young coconuts, coffee, chocolate…) is Lemons. The reason I make this exception IS because the local veggies are so good and lemon vinaigrette compliments the fresh garden flavors without over powering. Balsamic, rice wine, sherry vinaigrettes are fantastic–I am a vinegar fanatic and in the Off-Season I will need their help exciting palettes, being that I will be cooking with locally grown turnips and other seasonal root vegetables. However in the summer in what would seem to be the optimal time to experiment with locavorism, I am not giving up lemons.

Locavorism of course leads to larger political, ethical and ecological questions. The question is really one of moderation and excess. How far does one take a perceived duty in a fanatical adherence to a chosen “vorism”? Is one really solving any problems or just creating more of the same in the single approach solution? AND Is that fanaticism actually sustainable for the individual or would one burn out on turnips in January?

I think that Sarah Murray’s book Moveable Feast does a wonderful job in pointing out that there are many things to consider along with the Proximity of where your food comes from. She seems more concerned with a kind of ethical as well as ecological cost benefit analysis that takes into consideration that we actually do live in a globalized world. Sarah Murray encourages us to think in terms of ecological “best practices” that take into consideration many of the poverty stricken areas that benefit from exporting food. She makes the point that shipping maybe be more ecologically advantageous than growing green house tomatoes and driving them into an urban area.

At a recent TED talk, Louise Fresco lays out the problems with financially advanced nations abandoning globalization in the immediate aftermath of forcing globalization. There are ethical issues to address and if we develop a protectionist approach as a by product of eating practices in the name of Sustainability, then at one point we are going to have to ask the question: What are we sustaining? The earth? Humankind? Our immediate surroundings? Problems?

Ultimately what led to our current crisis, be it ecological or economical or epidemical is the idea that we can locate problems and then solve them. That is to ignore that the solution is already built into the problem and that solution will only cause more or the same problems. “I knew an Old Lady who swallowed a dog. She swallowed the dog to catch the cat…” Our very approach to crisis and problems may be the problem.

The idea of problematizing a problem would not be politically expedient for politicians but to play with a problem and turn it inside and out to the point of discovery, that is to say something that has not been thought, something external to the problem and its solution. Practices that experiment with demands and desires separate from solving problems lead us outside of endless loops. (See Seoul Day Lighting)

In the meantime, Nothing beats an mélange of baby vegetables lightly roasted and tossed with fresh greens just picked. I don't want to disrupt these flavors–I want to accentuate them and nothing does this better in the summer than a Lemon Vinaigrette with a touch of mustard and fresh herbs like basil or chives…

And needless to say: look for a lemon grown with the “best practice” possible…

Lemon Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons Lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon style mustard
6 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil