Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thursday, August 30—Day 30

Day 30? Can that be? Well, we knew that the month was nearing its end when we were presented with the following gifts:

Yep, we're right back where we started: coffee and chocolate. Many thanks to Laurie, who correctly discerned all of our preferences (dark roast for Jen, dark chocolate for Scott, and milk chocolate for Evie). We are starting to get questions from people about what we're going to eat on Saturday. Tune in and find out. . .

Our menu today:

Breakfast: Pancakes with butter and maple syrup, plus bacon and cider.

Lunch: The normal mid-day miscellany, a combo of Jen's tortilla creations featuring whatever vegetables she could find, plus salsa and cheese, hot dogs, and cut up fruits and veggies (finally finished that watermelon).

Dinner: Cheese pizza. We polished off the last of the 100 mile flour. Homemade tomato sauce with garlic (Harmony Valley Farm) and basil (grown in a bucket in our driveway). Topped with Farmer John's Provonello, which is a wonderful cheese that melts smoothly like mozzarella but has a little bit more assertive flavor. We've all agreed that we've fallen in love with his cheeses all over again.

I predict tomorrow will be an anticlimax--as a practical matter we will be ending the project early because there is a cookout to celebrate the end of Evie's logrolling class. As usual for a Friday, we'll all be in different places for lunch, which will be the last real meal of the experiment. We'll all try to have some deep thoughts for tomorrow.



Anonymous said...

First, congratulations on your experiment.

I tried looking through older posts on the blog to see if you discussed something that occured to me, and it didn't seem so, so here's a question for you:

I don't understand why the 100-mile rule is really radical. Such a distance implies a reliance on transportation networks that are still heavily oil-dependent. Certainly 100 miles, 100 years ago, would not have been thought of as local.

If eating locally doesn't change our need for fossil fuels to change the food economy, what do you think it's accomplishing?

Can you even eat locally today without relying on fossil fuels?

Curious to hear your thoughts. I searched the blog for topics related to "fuel" and "gas" and "redius" etc, and didn't see this aspect of your experiment directly talked about.

Thanks again for getting people thinking!

Sparrow said...

Now that you've gathered a great group of readers here, what will you do with us? I thought I'd share a note I saw today about an NYC food stand called Picknick working from some of the same ideals. What a great thing to have in the middle of one of the great destinations of travel-weary food.

I'm in your neighborhood and have really been enjoying your thoughts during this month, and even though I'm already careful about much of what I eat in terms of chemicals and cruelty you've inspired me to think even more about what goes in. Thanks!

Lynch Family said...

Why 100 miles? Well, it is a nice even number, and it corresponds (roughly) with the maximum distance that vendors seem to travel to our principal farmers' market, so in that regard it seems to make some sense.

I must disagree that a 100 mile radius is not radical. And there are any number of other ways to eat radically. Food is a commodity in our society—one ear of corn is considered as good as any other, and there are a lot of people dedicated to the idea that the only thing that distinguishes one from the next is the price you pay for it. When you look at how much we as a society have invested in making food as cheap as possible irrespective of the consequences, anything you do to to demonstrate that people would use any criterion other than price to choose what to buy is indeed radical.

Would 100 miles have been local 100 years ago? Probably not, but it was not our goal to go back in time. If we had, we would have kept white sugar, coffee, tea, cocoa, and many spices, which were all consumed by Laura Ingalls and her family on the South Dakota frontier over 100 years ago.
This is just the tip of a really big issue. If you want to find a time that people ate only what was truly local, you have to go back a long way—a really long way. If you include spices, you have to go back to the 1400s, maybe even further. If you include salt, you have to go back into prehistory.

I think it is also important to remember that fossil fuels are not the only reason to eat locally. I would say that my own principal reason is to invest in small, independent businesses. I am really tired of big chains, and I avoid them whenever I can—this is part of that. I grew up in a New England town that used to be full of apple orchards. Now it's mostly full of McMansions. Are the people who bought apples from Washington State and New Zealand partly to blame for this? I believe that they are.

Regarding the question of whether it is possible to eat locally without relying on fossil fuels, my opinion is that it simply is not. To even get close you would have to go 100% off the grid and harvest everything by human or animal power. To get all the way there, you would have to make all your tools, and of course you can't use any steel unless you made it yourself from iron that you mined. And you can't buy seeds because they get mailed using fossil fuel—you can't even use money, because it is minted using fossil-fuel power. All I mean to say is that commerce has always been part of the picture. OK, I've gone a bit overboard in this case, but I do think that it gives a bit of a sense of the futility of thinking you can ever really escape from the fossil fuel economy.

It does bring up something that I have been thinking about a lot lately—there is far more to be gained by getting a lot of people to make small changes than by getting a few people to make big ones.