Friday, 20 April 2012

Locavore lunacy


A few years ago, when the daughter was still in the infant stage, we took a cross-country motor trip from Seattle to Minneapolis.  During this, I discovered two things: First, working a petrol pump in South Dakota in the middle of winter in a howling wind while wearing a leather coat intended for Puget Sound is a good way to freeze to death and second, local food.  I don't mean regional recipes or cafes that serve bizarre burgers.  I mean the way in which the food spectrum changes.

I was fascinated with how the fish I encountered became smaller, more expensive and generally nastier until I visited a up-market supermarket in Burnsville, MN that was trying to sell salmon fillets at a premium price that a Seattle fishmonger would have chucked in the bin.  Meanwhile, the steaks became bigger, more tender and cheaper until for the price of a modest burger in Washington State I could, in Wyoming, buy a restaurant steak that completely obscured the plate and I could cut it with a fork.

This, to me, is what a locavore movement should be about; extolling to the masses the virtues of their local livestock and produce, imploring restaurants to take advantage of the local fish, reminding them that the sweet corn is delicious beyond the power of description and pointing out that the cheese at the farmers' market is a bit of all right.

Mind you, I have been to a few places in the world where the local stuff was so bad that I'd recommend importing every last crumb, but as a general principle, it's sound.

And I'm not alone.  Turn on any one of Gordon Ramsey's 3,472 television programmes and you'll hear him telling &^% restaurateurs that they're @)^&ing stupid not to @^%$ing use (&%@ing local food in their $%#@ing restaurants, the !&(%s.

Unfortunately, this being the age of irresponsible environmentalism and self-serving Gaia worship, locavorism has been co-opted into a hair-shirt movement devoid of any science, maths, economics or common sense as they turn a simple truth like buying the local rabbit is nicer into a crusade to Save the PlanetTM.  The image that keeps springing to mind is some benighted locavore fanatic who's fallen completely for the party line and vows to only eat what is grown within twenty miles.  Unfortunately, he lives in a prairie and the only thing grown within the sacred limits is grass.  Unless your name is Nebuchadnezzar, good luck with that.

The advocates bleat on about calories expended, food miles, sustainability and all manner of other things that they clearly don't understand, but which they seem to imagine make an iron-clad case for saying that if you eat New Zealand lamb, we'll all be dead by 2050.

It's at this point that logic and apocalypse fatigue starts to set in.  If things have really got so bad that my enjoying Chilean asparagus is the knife edge on which the fate of the world balances, then its far too late and would you please pass the hollandaise sauce?

Which reminds me, I must work on the Earth Day menu.  Let's see what's the best food I can find that will really clock up the odometer?

1 comment:

Krista Janicki said...

May i suggest some bottled water from Fiji?