As hokey as it might seem, I am a fan of New Years resolutions. This may be something about me, or it may be something that everyone experiences (perhaps because we have been conditioned to think this way), but I have generally been able to accomplish quite a bit around this time of year:
- Quitting smoking (some eight years ago now)
- Becoming vegetarian (a change which lasted 4 years, though I did eat fish)
- Beginning an exercise regimen
My first resolution for this year is to eat more locally. Although I will make some exceptions (garlic, nuts, and coffee, for example) I will do my best to buy locally produced food. This includes vegetables, meats, and dairy products. This means I will also be eating more seasonally; if I can’t find local broccoli, I will do without it.
Of course, living more locally goes beyond food—I will also do my best to buy local beer, and to support local merchants rather than regional or national (or multinational!) chains.
This might sound easy to the casual reader, but it really isn’t. When I went vegetable shopping last night, I ended up with some squash from Massachusetts, a huge parsnip from Vermont, some garlic, and (luckily) some local lettuce grown in a greenhouse. Of course the store had all kinds of vegetables—carrots, celery, fennel, broccoli, you name it—but most of it was from California.
You might ask why I am motivated to put myself through this. I have a few reasons, but two are chief among them:
- I want to do everything I can to reduce my dependence on fossil fuels—did you know that the average food item in the average American meal has traveled 1500 miles from its source to your plate?
- I want to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of where my food comes from, rather than ignoring all that and blindly buying whatever I feel like eating. As I see it, the first step is to buy food that is grown around me. No strawberries in New England in the winter—it just doesn’t make sense.
Anyway, that’s my newest journey. If you’re interested, I hope you will check back later for updates on how it goes. And if you are trying to do something similar, how’s it going and where do you live?