More than five years ago, I lived in a suburb of St. Louis, Mo. During the time I lived there, I gave little to no thought to where my food came from and probably even less so when I was growing up in Illinois. Buying locally meant driving over to the Shop ‘n Save to pick up groceries.
We had a farmers’ market which I frequented in the months it was open. We even had a great meat market by our church and would go there on special occasions.
Before I moved to Charlottesville . . .
- I had never had fresh eggs.
- I never ate a salad with ingredients that traveled 60 miles or less to get to my plate.
- I never had a cup of coffee brewed at the same site where the beans were roasted.
Now, I feel as if I’ve become a bit of a snob, developed, as my friend Hawes calls it, a “precious palate.” Maybe.
Is it merely trendy? I don’t know. I read The Botany of Desire way before The Omnivore’s Dilemma or In Defense of Food emerged and made readers aware of the benefits of eating locally grown food. It all made so much sense to me and changed my life, not merely became an “of the moment” alteration in thinking.
I left a job, in some part, because I couldn’t square my ideals and my location with the genetically-engineered foods giant that was among my former employer’s largest clients. (This happens, when one works in public relations and reputation management. See Ethics and PR: When your client’s values are not your own.)
Moving across the country and living in Charlottesville in particular, has made me much more aware of and committed to local foods. Among my favorite restaurants are those who source their meats and produce locally and in recent months I’ve become an active user of a service that gathers foods and products from dozens of local vendors and farms (for free!) and allows me to pick them all up in one spot.
How has your thinking about food, the way you buy it, where it comes from or what you choose to eat changed over the last five years or so?