Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Conscientious dining

One of the hottest discussion topics lately seems to be the concept of 'food miles' - the distance that an ingredient has to travel from harvest site to table. More and more people are embracing the idea of eating locally, cooking only with ingredients that originated within a certain distance of their house (100 miles is a common choice). Novelist Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees) has penned a nonfiction account of her own family's experience with eating locally: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: a year of food life. She and her family raised their own poultry, grew their own vegetables, even made their own cheese (with milk from local cows and goats). They ate food when it was in natural season, rather than dining on 'fresh' strawberries in November. She describes their efforts in a very readable way, with her usual skill with prose. The book also contains some recipes and some short essays by her daughter - a student at Duke University. For anyone who is interested in this new drive to return to a simpler, more ecologically-sensitive table, this is an enjoyable way to start. [Personally, I wouldn't have any problem eating locally if I was living in Washington or Oregon, but I'm not. I live here, and I don't relish the idea of living without flour, sugar, or milk. Or beef, pork, corn, tomatoes, chocolate, oranges, apples, rice, etc. etc. etc.]

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