Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Eating Locally with a Global Palate

We hear it all the time, the world is getting smaller. The availability of and exposure to new global cuisines has grown immensely. Americans are experimenting with a greater variety of cuisines than ever before. Go to any urban area and you are likely to find dozens of ethnic food choices. Foods from Mexico, Japan, Thailand, Jamaica, Ethiopia, India, Vietnam, among dozens of others, have woven their way into the America diet.

In addition, we've gotten used to being able to get almost any item we desire from our local grocery store year round. Fresh tomatoes aren't simply a product of summer any longer. We can find strawberries from Chile in our local market in January. It's something we've come to expect.

Now we are in the middle of a food-cultural revolution that emphasizes eating locally-produced foods. Even the best intentioned "locavore" (someone who eats only locally produced products) might have a tough time sticking strictly to locally produced products when it comes down to giving up coffee because its grown thousands of miles away in Columbia. Or forgoing bread and pasta because wheat isn’t grown in their state. Not to mention whether the lemon grass for a Filipino Chicken dish is grown on a local farmer.

In a society that demands instant gratification as well as diversity, are we willing to go back to a "small world" table?

How important is eating locally to you? What percentage of the food you eat is produced locally? Are you willing to give up certain items to eat locally?