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?
My thinking hasn’t changed that much. Even when I was dirt poor and in my twenties, I was bringing my glass canisters to the local co-op (we lived in Michigan then) and weighing them and filling them with organic flour and organic lentils (so that I didn’t have to use plastic bags.) During our summers in Vermont, in the ’80s, everybody reused their shopping bags–a bag nickel was worth more then–and we always bought the local produce. When I was a child in New York, my mom always insisted on eating only New York State eggs.
What’s different for me now is that we have more money, so I’ve been able to be more “precious” and buy nice wines and expensive cheese and local meats. In our poor-but-organic days, we had to be vegetarian.
Mj. Thank you so much for bringing relayfoods to our attention. Kim and I are thrilled with the service. We got our first order yesterday and she made a delicious dinner of shrimp and chorizo quesadilla with local chorizo.
This morning I was treated to fresh eggs on some nice preservative-free sourdough bread, topped with delicious locally-made butter. A tasty whole wheat cinnamon roll and some bursting-with-flavor strawberries rounded out a perfect breakfast. The fresh Shenandoah Joes didn’t hurt either.
They also threw in a free ginger chocolate bar from Gearharts that I can’t stop thinking about.