Locavore is a word that Americans have come up with to describe something as natural as breathing to our forefathers and still normal to the majority of the world's population: eating food locally made, grown, and/or processed. To even attempt to have consciousness about where your food comes from is treated like an exotic (or primitive depending on the interpreter), activity. The loss of such knowledge in 'third world countries' (hate that phrase), is yet another sign that they are making key advancements.
These changes, the gaining or loosing of consciousness about food, seems to happen very slowly and before you know it, you have don't know where your apple has come from unless you read it on a sticker attached. A few days without a leafy salad with all the sidekicks or even the mere access to such food (even if you don't buy it) sends your body going into some unnatural state of shock. It's a total breakdown in connection between what we put in our mouths and our knowledge about where it comes from.
This was me until very recently. When I lived in Liberia as a child, of course I was a locavore, there really wasn't too much of an option. However there was still a serious disconnect as I rarely ever went to the market and even though my grandmother owned a farm, I can't remember ever making the journey beyond her home to her farm. In fact, I don't even know if she grew anything other than rubber trees and of course the guava tree at her house. When I moved to the U.S. it was made very clear that food comes from a supermarket and you need know nothing beyond this simple fact. Apple picking trips were a brief reminder that fruits come from trees and watching my uncle tend to his small garden showed that cultivating food is literally a very difficult labor of love.
It has only been recently, mostly due to my time in Sudan working with farmers and butchers, that I have started to think more carefully about where my food comes from. While some friends and family think that I've lost my mind when I tell them about my current food shopping habits which include going to famer's markets on freezing days like yesterday, trips to Whole Foods, and also trips to the local grocery store all in the same week, I can honestly say that I have barely begun to scratched the surface. I get so excited about this and each trip to the market gets me more excited. I have no problem talking food to people I don't even know. Friday night at the company Christmas party, I found myself telling people about the various farmer's markets, which one is open in the winter, even which ones take food coupons (yes, the U.S. Government even encourages poor people to buy local) and all the food related places that I still have to explore come spring. I find myself looking twice at blood red tomatoes in December because I now know that they are either coming for far, far away or are going to be really pricey because someone is paying a lot of money in energy bills for a greenhouse.
I really noticed my change last week when in a moment of 'i need fruit other than the apple' I have bought 2 grapefruits all the way from Texas. For the first two days (I cut into halves and carry to work for breakfast), while I enjoyed the fruit, I was super conscious with every bite that what I was enjoying was a priviledge and that's how I decided to treat the event. With the second grapefruit, I was shocked back into reality with it's bitter taste and instantly knew that the foodie powers that be were telling me that clearly this was not what I was suppose to be eating - after all, food is suppose to taste good.
Anyway, as I have said, this is all pretty new to me, but it makes me very excited and everyday I just want to learn more and more. So, do you know where your food comes from? Do you even care? Do you care, but the cost of eating local and organic is too much of a hurdle, or too much effort (i.e. going to more than one place to get food)? I'd love to hear your food experiences in whichever country, county, state, province, city or village you are living in!
This has been a very long introduction to the week, but this is something I've been thinking about since last week and I'm glad I finally got the chance to share with you. With a little planning, I have also lined up an entire week of exciting posts so you can know that there will be something new everyday right here!