Eat Local Today

March 16, 2009 at 9:10 am

Rob Gardner

A few days ago, I sat down with a reporter, and we discussed my path to local food obsession.  I gave the spiel of how it started with regular visits to the Oak Park Farmer’s Market.  Initially, it was more of a challenge of market shopping.  There was no big picture.  Yet, soon, I realized what else local eating did.  Reduce food miles, eliminate excess packaging, explore regional flavors, enhance biodiversity, support my community.  Then, the more I chose local, the more I realized that local was not the destination but the path.  What I wanted in food: food made with care and artisanship, respect for animals including the lack of hormones and antibiotics, natural, organic, sustainable practices, all of that was most obtainable by obtaining local food.   These reasons for local apply as much on April 1 as they do on August 1. 

Eating local means eating seasonal.  This is the season of no food.  It is no accident that religious periods of austerity, Lent and Passover, happen around now.  I needed to run out of the house last night (to the Mado Roman-themed dinner), but I meant to Twitter, “Am I normal, my spare fridge is now filled with bottles of sparkling wine instead of sunchokes and parsnips?”   I tossed a lot of food last week.  And when I talk weather with folks, only those who really know me, know why I relate the highs and lows to apples.  “A good day for apples” might keep others inside.   Winter eating ebbs but Spring is way away.

We manage.  With the spare fridge freed, we work at the supplies in the freezer.  Alice Water may serve fresh peas now.  We eat frozen peas now.  We manage on crops of always growing sprouts.  We track down what else has been grown indoors.  Last week some some aquaponic lettuces and some hoop-house radishes.  Our onions have gone mostly soft, but it did not stop my wife from baking others for a side dish.  Potatoes, we have plenty, and we will eat plenty about now.  We are not solely without roots.  Some turnips survive.  Nothing seems to thwart a celery root.  Today is not the easiest day to eat local.

There are arguments against local eating that do not hold much sway with me.  On the other hand, I can tally off many issues with eating local.  High on that list would be managing now, in the hungry weeks.  The reasons for eating local, though, do not dissipate during this period.  Eat local today.