We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Saturday, July 4. 2015
Happy Independence Day! If you're like me, you're with your family and being independent together (h/t to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer).
If you're like me, you're probably having hot dogs and hamburgers, potato or macaroni salad, soda or beer, or other kinds of foods which were purchased at a store after being shipped from some other part of the U.S. or even another nation.
If you're like me, you probably don't spend time worrying about the details of how your food reached your table. But you may know people, as I do, who think the whole "eat local' idea will save our health and economy. We have a restaurant here which is excellent, but very expensive, and always booked. We need to make reservations several months in advance to get a table. They only serve locally grown foods (I believe it's a 50 mile radius), and it's BYOB (so I guess they're OK with bringing French wine to go with the Jersey Tomatoes).
Normally I don't go in for faddish trends, and I really don't buy the whole "local food" movement. But this is a good restaurant and just because I don't agree with it doesn't mean I'll avoid a good meal. Good food is good food. There are reasons why I don't necessarily think the local food movement is ever going to change how we live, and it certainly is not going to make our lives better.
As this video (45 minutes long - so be prepared) points out, most nations with small farms have economic problems. This doesn't intrinsically mean small farms are impoverishing those nations, but there's no doubt being a food exporter (and the U.S. is by far the largest) is an indication of economic strength through size. This video also points out the hypocrisy of our nation's politics and its 'solutions' to perceived problems. We have deemed some banks "Too Big To Fail" and willingly subsidize their moral hazard, while at the same time pointing to large agricultural firms and saying they are "Too Big To Succeed" and impose excessive regulations on them while subsidizing failing small farms. So the policy of the U.S. that we subsidize failure, and engage double standards wherever we see fit.
The Jungle is often touted as an example of what would happen if we did not support regulation of the food industry. Unfortunately, this novel was a work of fiction designed to draw attention to the plight of the working man. It was the lies of Upton Sinclair about the Chicago Packing District that stick in people's memory, however. By and large, most food businesses provided healthier foods than smaller firms. It was in their best interest to do so. One does not win new consumers by killing or injuring those you have. In fact, most of these businesses wanted regulation as a means to raise barriers to entry against their smaller competitors, and to prevent foreign foods, which had raised trade barriers, from being too competitive.
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Eat locally grown food, why? Because it is organic? Simply paying more for locally grown makes no sense. All most all
types of food are not native to the area they are grown in and
99% of produce are genetically modified since the Romans.
Pork, beef, lamb, & chicken have been genetically modified
to produce lean, less fat meat. So were is the big difference in
buying local? Pay more for the same crap to support the local economy. You will not find a heritage pig farmer in your local
coop, as local, is also code for, good for you.
Washington D.C. Fireworks Show - July 4, 2015
"We have a restaurant here which is excellent, but very expensive, and always booked....They only serve locally grown foods"
does anyone else find that funny? Obviously, the locavore thing is not to keep the costs down to be passed on to the consumer, and it's not the liquor license if it's BYOB. Less trucking, you would think the costs would be lower.
and on this subject, i live in a agricultural area, my borough is zoned ag and the council has approved several more "organic" chicken houses (eggs are $4.50/doz as oposed to $2.67/doz)
in the area. But with the new Food safety and modernization act, they can't spread manure for 6 months- so the flies are terrible.
so they are going to pass "fly ordinances".
The stupid, it burns.
I spent my Independence Day canning.
4 Quarts of green beans and 15 pints of chow chow (sweet pickled vegetables). Froze a qt bag of snow peas.
Then I took a nap.
If you are harvesting and canning at the beginning of July then you are obviously in a different frost zone then I am.
Come to think of it, this year and without moving, so am I. This morning the outside temps have finally climbed into the mid-sixties after a dawn temp of 54 degrees in coastal Massachusetts. Coolest summer I can remember.
No tomatoes yet, very small greenies. The cucumbers are not happening this year it seems, had a few yellow flowers but nothing happened afterwards. Even the blueberry bushes and end of June we are usually picking and adding handfuls to our cereal or oatmeal, but this year plentiful numbers of berries but all still pale green. Nothing ripening. Miniscule number of strawberries and very small.
Thank God for trucks and ships and especially Florida or else I'd starve and so would everyone else.
Must be that global warming, eh? ///
Wasn't that picture that was circulating on the net of the slush waves of the ocean taken near Boston? All that snow you had this past winter, it's what we used to call "free fertilizer". All that Nitrogen put back into the ground. Shame it's so cool to get anything started. I've noticed that the hybrids and easily obtained seedlings you get today are not as resistant to stress as are older varieties, that can withstand temperature variation/hot/wet/cool. OR if they are, they bear tasteless fruit.
i.e. seedless watermelons
I've gotten a few cherry tomatoes, but mostly because my daughter takes Ag courses and started some maters in the greenhouse and brought them home flowering. I'm In central PA, btw. I get my garden tilled by a tractor/cultivator in early/mid April and start my onions, cabbage, potatoes and peas almost immediately. Sometimes they require covering at night. I'm in zone 6.
it's been extremely wet and cool here this year, and from what I hear from further west... absolutely monsoonish.
"expensive" is worth it, if the portions are generous. Things always taste better when someone else makes it.
Restaurants, from what I understand, have very small profit margins, which is why they close so quickly if they aren't any good - or have bad word of mouth press.
Yes, it is funny. If the chef was not so talented, I probably would never go. But he is excellent, the food is very good, though I think it would be just as good if it were not local.
It's more expensive, but not so much so as to be worth denying myself a delicious meal occasionally.
We need to make reservations several months in advance to get a table.
It seems half the edification is being allowed to sit in this restaurant.
After waiting that long, being found worthy, of course you'll think the food is great. Wouldn't want to appear foolish now, would we?
"If you're like me, you probably don't spend time worrying about the details of how your food reached your table."
That sums it up quite succinctly.
Re nutty restaurateurs, locally grown, organic, whatnot ... yes, this is why we continue to enjoy Chipotle's fast food ... best carnitas on the planet, even though they can't find pork producers willing to follow their nutty ideas ... mmmmm, pork ..... most versatile meat on earth ...
Not really. We know what to expect when we go, so waiting doesn't add value or flavor. Both my wife and I are capable cooks, but we are not particularly great. She is much better than I, and I love her cooking. But this really is well prepared food, regardless of its source.
A lot of the non-chain restaurants here in Denver that do the local food thing are much better food wise, and only a tad more expensive than something comparable that doesn't consciously do it.
For example California Pizza Kitchen's menu compares with Lucky Pie http://luckypiepizza.com/, however Lucky Pie does the "local food and drink" thing, and is more *interesting*. Yeah, it doesn't scale for crap, but they make their own Mozzarella in house, the cider comes from a local place, and it's tasty. VERY tasty.
At the other end, supporting local farmers who know the whole "conception to comestible" process helps make our cities and states resilient, and provides the sort of working with your hands jobs that the robotizing of the factories is taking away.
That said, I don't advocate government support for small farms, except maybe in the taking away of subsidies for all farming. If a small farmer can't figure out how to thrive in today's market he probably should sell out to someone who has an idea of how to make a go at it.
And those "too big to fail" banks were only too big because they had friends in the (well, every) administration.
It's okay to choose to be a locavore, but most people on this planet don't have that choice. And what do we call them? Famine victims.
A local food supply can have its advantages. Living in Northern California spoiled me for really fresh fruits and vegetables year-round and at reasonable prices, all from the Salinas and Central Valleys.
Even cut flowers were much cheaper there given the growers in Half Moon Bay. I'm in Seoul now and even ginsing is cheaper in California.
For a nation to be self-sufficient in food production is a huge national security advantage. Consider that the Brits tried to starve the Germans in WWI - and vice versa in both wars. The US made it a policy to try and starve the Japanese in WWII.
The video addresses the war effort, as part of the short-lived nature of so many "eat local" movements.
In California, which is essentially the main source of so many food products in the U.S., you were blessed. So much food in California is local simply because it's a huge industry there.
The post isn't an argument against locally-grown foods. There are some small benefits to having local food resources. It is, however, an argument against the extremes of the locavore movement, which stipulate that ONLY locally-grown foods are healthier, better for the economy and promoting a better social environment.
Sadly, that's really just not the case. It's great to have a few local resources that are financially viable. But what happens when they are not? Then relying on imports (from anywhere) is the primary option.
It's interesting that the commenter in #6 (Frances) points out that not having the choice to be a locavore does, indeed lead to boughts of famine. This is particularly true during war, or in war-torn regions.
As Octavian was rising to power, one of his biggest problems was a family which controlled the ports in south along the Mediterranean - the source of most of Rome's food supplies. Sextus Pompeius denied to the peninsula shipments of grain through the Mediterranean as a means of undermining Octavian. Pompeius' had his own navy and set his son as naval commander, seeking to cause widespread famine across Rome's provinces. Octavian (by then Augustus) solved the problem by granting the son control over Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily and Greece - and a permanent consul position.
Famines are a primary reason why many locavore movements are almost always short-lived.