‘Earth to Table in the Shortest Time’… The locavores have arrived!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Posted by Deeba PAB

Locavore a term coined on World Environment Day, 2005, to promote the buying /eating of produce grown within the 100 mile (160Km) radius.
The issue being addressed in 2005 was the alarming trend of produce being transported half way across the globe to feed a ‘global appetite for exotic fare'. What was satiating the palate was no different in calories, but meant hugely in terms of miles it travelled, the cost of shipping … in other words, the significant carbon footprint it left stamped on a burdened Earth.

I am a firm supporter of the 100 mile diet. My Indian lamb chops taste as good as any I have had. New Zealand lamb chops may still be the best, but I am ‘palate happy'. I cringed when I heard of a new butter chicken launched in a city in India, advertised as “Anaarkali, the classiest Butter Chicken on earth is about more than just exotic ingredients & years of research.” A dish that serves 2 is for Rs 6000/- (USD 136/-), counts as its ingredients fresh tomatoes and Hunt’s Tomato Paste, Danish Lurpak Unsalted Butter, Fillipo Berio Olive Oil and Evian Natural Spring Water. It might well be the best butter chicken on the face of this Earth, and the entrepreneurs mean well as they are donating part of the proceeds to charity, yet, wouldn’t ‘eating off the land’ have been better for Earth?

This is not about food snobbery. It’s all a matter of perspective, and it’s heartening to see foodie bloggers playing a hugely responsible role in following a locavore diet. It’s wonderful to see them following seasons, blogs glowing orange with anything from persimmons to pumpkins announcing fall. Even better to see folk roasting their own pumpkins for puree! It’s imperative to begin counting ‘Food Miles’, or the distance food travels from where it is grown. The words ring loud… the closer the food, the better the taste! Andrea Meyers leads with her Grow Your Own event, a twice-a-month blogging event that celebrates the foods we grow or raise ourselves and the dishes we make using our homegrown products.
In September this year, the Obama administration launched a 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' initiative to connect consumers with local producers. The idea is not to limit choice, but to expand consciences, and encourage healthy seasonal eating. 2 recent cookbooks that sing the locavore anthem of ‘Earth to table in the shortest time’ are worth a mention. In their book, Earth to Table, renowned chefs Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann remind us of the relationship between local eating and taste, and demonstrate how you can reduce your carbon footprint without diminishing your enjoyment of food. Bringing together stories of the passage of seasons on the farm; how-to sections; stunning photographs; and, of course, creative and delectable recipes that will leave anyone wondering why they ever considered eating a tomato in February. In Cooking for Friends, award-winning chef, world-renowned restaurateur, bestselling author, and Hell’s Kitchen star Gordon Ramsey offers us more than 100 exceptional recipes from his own family table. The way Gordon cooks here embodies his strongly held views: use in-season, fresh ingredients at their peak; support local producers and farmers' markets whenever possible; and celebrate the food culture and its many influences.

This post was written by Deeba

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While I am as guilty as it gets - because I love Asian ingredients and lemon grass and Asian spices are not grown locally, unfortunately - I couldn't agree more. One aspect of eating local foods most people cannot see is that the money you spend stays in your region, instead of feeding multinational corporations. I'd rather give my money to a local farmer than Nestlé or Dole or whatever the big name behind those foods is. Still, if local producers are unwilling to produce certain foods, I'll buy something else - e.g. grassfed beef from Argentina instead of hormone laden grainfed beef from local farmers - so I hope they start producing the stuff I want...

Local foods are tasty, when harvested ripe and in season, so why anyone would bother to buy apples from Chile or New Zealand, while one of Europes largest areas of orchards is just in front of our doors, beats me...

Foodfreak said...
October 23, 2009 at 9:23:00 PM GMT+2  

I had a post about food buying habits on my blog recently. I am all over the map when it comes to buying food. I live in s state that has a very short growing season and fewer crops because of the semi-arid zone we are in. So food has to travel. I tend to buy local over organic, organic over supermarket fare, and imported over local for some types of products. I support my local farmers and businesses at every opportunity I get. However, food miles aren't the only factor that go into determining the carbon footprint of a product. It is a good idea to look at the energy efficiency through the entire product cycle. This article by John E. McWilliams has some interesting thoughts when it comes to food miles.

October 24, 2009 at 4:24:00 AM GMT+2  

Foodfreak, I'm not on moral highground either, and have my odd guilty pleasures, and often wish they produced stuff I crave. I can see change creeping in, and wait anxiously for bluerries & blackberries to grow here! Manisht, a pertinent point indeed. There is so much more than meets the eye. This is just a small beginning!

Deeba PAB said...
October 24, 2009 at 11:17:00 AM GMT+2  

Fabulous, thought-provoking post, Deeba, and I couldn't agree more. Between my husband and the book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" I have been brought to think very carefully about each food purchase I make and now I look at the labels as well as the signs at our markets (which all are required to have source place). I do know that locally grown is better and fresher but it is often less expensive - not always, but often enough. Now when buying anything I compare and try to buy local and avoid anything flown in from another country or the other side of the world. This also assures seasonality. Here in France we are lucky enough to be able to have a diverse kitchen and table year round with mostly regional or at least French products.

Thanks, Deeba, for this post!

Jamie said...
October 24, 2009 at 12:06:00 PM GMT+2  

In S'pore, almost all fresh products are imported. I never tasted a sweet tomato till I live in France and now know the difference in taste between season and off season food. :)

Local produce are very expensive in France but hubs and I, we try to buy local as much to support them. They need our support. Supermarket chains makes the most profit out of these farmers.

October 24, 2009 at 12:17:00 PM GMT+2  

I am with you, buy as much local products and produce as you can, and make informed decisions about those items that are not local to you.

I love Earth to Table, a wonderful book!

NKP said...
October 24, 2009 at 4:11:00 PM GMT+2  

it's important to me to get as much as i can locally/regionally, however like many i too am often all over the map when cooking asian/indian food - due to the exotic ingredients required. it's important for me to know i am pitching in and helping our farmers in the region. i get a weekly CSA crate full of veggies and sometime fruit from farmers in the thüringia region and the produce is fresh and simply tasty.

deeba - a great post - thank you!

Meeta K. Wolff said...
October 24, 2009 at 6:23:00 PM GMT+2  

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