Friday, June 20, 2008

Locavory

I don't know if you all have been exposed to this "movement" or not, but - there are a group of people who refer to themselves as "Locavores." ("Local" + "-vore" like in carnivore, only the fact that these people eat locally produced food).

And this is one of those things I kind of hate about a certain segment of society.

See, I like going to farmer's markets. I like buying honey that was locally made. If there were an egg farm within reasonable driving distance of me, I'd go there for eggs. I like the idea of food production being somewhat decentralized, both because I like the thought of people who WANT to farm (without having to have a soybean field the size of Manhattan) being able to farm, being able to make a living doing what they love. And also because I keep that thought in the back of my head that if something very big, very bad happened (like, God forbid, some kind of attack on the shipping industry), there'd still be things available locally for people to eat.

But I hate the concept of locavory. Because like so many of the Stuff White People Like, it becomes a pissing contest waaaaaaay too fast.

Because it seems people are incapable of making some kind of lifestyle choice without either (a) feeling the masses need to be evangelized or (b) using it as Evidence of How They Are Better Than Everyone Else.

I knew people like that in college. Now, "locavory" didn't exist as such (though there was a big nice farmer's market in my college town, where I often went on Saturdays to buy the few vegetables I willingly ate in those days and also to people-watch). But some of the students - especially the College of Natural Resources students - would do this thing:

"Well, I'm a vegetarian."
"Well, I'm a vegan"
"Oh, I'm not only a vegan, I also only shop at co-ops."
"Yeah, I do all that, plus I have a plot in the community gardens every summer."

And it's like: STOP IT. Okay? You win the Good Person Olympics.

The remarkable thing to me, is some of those same folks would wrinkle up their noses about the kids on campus who were involved with religion: "Those Christians - they think they're BETTER than me."

Mote, meet beam.

So I see this starting up and I kind of roll my eyes - oh please, don't ruin my pleasure in shopping at Farmer's Markets by turning it into one of those things "right thinking" people do. Don't make it some kind of f$&^ing badge of honor. Just let me buy my green beans and beets in peace, without assuming a particular reason for why I do it.

I can't stand how some people get to be such tools about stuff they do.

One of the other things - and this is where the whole extreme-purity-of-purpose runs against the messy real world: on one of the bulletin boards I read, there's a section for people who are into locavory. And one of the topic headings was something like "IT'S FLOODED HERE. HOW DO I EAT?" And it wasn't that - we have no food, we need help. It was - I can no longer buy the exclusively-local food I want because the fields are under water, how do I maintain my locavore cred in this situation?

And see, my response would be: do what most of the rest of the country does and go to the Wal-mart. Or the Publix. Or the Kroger's. Or the Safeway. You're not going to be struck dead by eating a carrot that was trucked in from Maine, I promise.

(The other thing that gets me about extreme locavory - we're told by the Health Powers that Be to eat a hugely diverse diet with some not-in-this-lifetime number of vegetable servings per day. What do you do as a locavore in the dead of winter when the two kinds of local veggies you have are turnips and potatoes? Do you eat turnips until you turn into one? That's the whole thing that people like Laura Ingalls Wilder had to do, and that's why people rejoiced when grocery stores started carrying produce from other regions.

Also - does that mean you never get to have spices? Never cinnamon toast, because cinnamon is grown in Sumatra or somewhere? That seems too much to me.)

Like any kind of extremism, I'm highly suspicious of it. What irritates me is that people with that smug, "I'm better than the human algae that shop at Wal-Mart" attitude becomes something I have to deal with when I go to the natural-foods store or to the farmer's market.

6 comments:

Ken S, Fifth String on the Banjo of Life said...

Locavores.

Estan locos.

Anonymous said...

Same with the people who wear those AIDS-ribbon thingies, telling all the world that they are more sensitive and enlightened than the rest of us.

nightfly said...

Worship the Truck Farmer at the church of your choice. Hail Truck Farmer! Hail Truck Farmer!

Seriously - do people love Darwinism so much they have to be living proof of natural selection? Diverse diets, impoved sanitation, antibiotics, flourinated water, vaccines... we live about 25 years longer than people did at the turn of last century; about twice as long as the century before that.

I mean, I suppose they die happy and young - no longer a burden on sweet Gaia - and get naturally composted by their brethren. Seems a small consolation.

Ken S, Fifth String on the Banjo of Life said...

Heh. 'Fly, check it out

Kate P said...

I think that's the one difference I've noticed among my relatives who are vegetarians--there are two kinds. One kind just does their own thing and doesn't push it on anyone--in fact, they opened a restaurant in NC about two decades ago, a small operation that really took off. Because they made it a point to make it good and not about martyrdom and evangelizing. They're pretty modest about it. The other kind brings vegetarian fare to family parties, but not enough to share, and suffers from militant environmentalism--I'm not talking your normal hey-you-gonna-recycle-that? stuff.

And then you just have people who are excited to be part of a special elite group--and even as much as they tell you should join, and even if you do, they're pretty smug about the fact that they there first!

WordGirl said...

Diet and exercise are the new religion. Didn't you know? Seriously, that's my theory (not hypothesis -- theory.) People who reject God take up environmentalism or the abortion movement as their defining dogma.

And they take something good and nice and fun -- like eating locally -- and make it bad and mean and militant. I HATE THAT! It makes me not want to go to the farmer's market anymore because it's suddenly become one big clique-ish political rally. GADS! Can't I just buy my tomatoes without being prosthelytized?! (Did I spell that right?) Then I feel all icky, like people are looking at me, when in fact, I was buying home-grown tomatoes years before the hippies showed up.

Another good one, ricki.