Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Airing of grievances

I missed Festivus again this year. And with it, the traditional airing of grievances. There are quite a few grievances that I could air at this point, but one that has been particularly getting under my skin is the constant painting of 'local food' people as elitist. Two times (Buzzwords and Greenwash) over the holidays, New York Times lackey Kim Severson wrote articles with a distinct bias against people that eat local and/or organic. The Buzzwords piece was particularly nasty, unfortunately protected behind the Times' pay wall. Basically calling local foodies snobbish and trendy and only a kneejerk reaction to Walmart offering organic food. "Oh no, we're so elitist! What will we do now that Walmart is selling organic food? We can't eat organic anymore, obviously! Well, invent 'local food' as a way to further elevate ourselves above the riff-raff I suppose". My favorite line is at the end where she says that it might be a good idea in California, but not in North Dakota. I wonder what all the local foodies in Canada have to say about that. Greenwash isn't as bad, but snark against organic food companies is definitely evident. Yes, the "all natural Cheetos" are ridiculous. But who buys them anyway? But making fun of the Stonyfield Farm cow? bitch.

Breaking news for Ms. Severson: Not everyone's idea of eating local is exiting their Hummer House, starting up the SUV and tooling on down to the uber-expensive boutique farmers market to pay $10 a pound for mesclun mix from a nerby farm with a cutesy rural name. Some of us actually grow that food ourselves. Scraping frozen chicken shit off a plywood floor isn't exactly what I call elitist. Or we buy directly from the farmer at 'real' farmers markets where those that offer overpriced trendy items don't last long. And we don't do it to elevate ourselves over others. We actually do it to keep the money in our community, to preserve family farms and open space, and to prevent the further consolidation of the food industry. And we do it because its healthy. Here is what I call elitist: flouncing through your life without ever giving thought to the consequences of your choices. Get out of the city every now and then.

And another thing!

Here is a Grist article with a link to an article from the Economist. Also trashing the local food movement. You know something must be worthwhile if it starts generating this much backlash.


Blogger Rurality said...

That's really funny considering the fact that people have been growing their own or shopping at farmer's markets for ages! It's not anything new, at least not around here. Maybe it is in big cities?

The two best things to me about eating local are 1-It's fresher! and 2-Not so much wasted energy carting stuff all over the country. I have to admit that I don't go overboard with it though... if I want pomegranate juice here in 7a, I buy it!

9:24 PM  
Blogger cyndy said...

Perhaps the misnomer that 'local food' people are elitist arises out of the fact that it sometimes costs more to "be selective"?? (Esp. when you live in the city...where everything is expensive!)

If only they could get the concept behind the Eat Local movement--SYLF (Support Your Local Farm)..before it disappears....

8:12 AM  
Anonymous Pennie said...

You're preaching to the choir here...I feel the same way...although I'm called a "hippy" because of the life style I've chosen.

I'm so sick of our society labeling anything they don't understand. Labels are for jars...not people.

9:18 AM  
Blogger Blackswamp_Girl said...


9:29 PM  
Blogger wurwolf said...

I think it's a New York thing. This is what eating local and organic means to New Yorkers -- going to a boutique grocery (there's one hilariously called "The Amish Market" on Ninth Avenue, which is absolutely the least Amish place I've ever seen) or to a chi chi street food fair in Tompkins Square Park. It has nothing to do with actually growing the food yourself or supporting your local farmers. It's not an excuse, but I get the feeling that this is where the writer is coming from.

5:16 PM  
Blogger EFB said...

for the times to take that kind of contrarian view of the local food movement is not a good idea. it doesn't make them look clever. it makes them look, frankly, stupid.

there is a great network of farmer's markets in nyc. it's quite easy to eat local from them.

i think people's tastebuds have become more sophisticated. seeking out local foods yields greater flavor and that's great because it's also better for the environment and local economy.

11:27 AM  

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