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Friday, October 12, 2007

the problem with eating locally

So I've posted many a time about my food ethos--of eating locally, sustainably grown goods over conventional goods coming from god-knows-where. I like to support my local farmers and food artisans, my local food purveyors, and small businesses.

But what happens when eating locally leaves you feeling a consistent sense of lack?

I know that some very dedicated and talented individuals have conducted eating experiments where they stay inside their watershed for all foods except items like spices and maybe coffee. I have never pretended to be that dedicated. I must have my chocolate, my spices, my oils and vinegars, my wines, my italian tomatoes. But for veggies, and now, cheeses, I've stayed true to my region.

My downfall is bread. With my apologies to any 'sconnies reading this entry, there is no good bread to be had in our little corner of the state. Well, there's decent bread in She-town, but only one variety.

I needed a Zingerman's fix, and I needed it quickly, a need which they so graciously obliged to fill. I placed my order on Wednesday morning, and when I arrived home from work today I found a big box inside my foyer, stuffed with three loaves of bread. I cradled the loaves, sniffed deeply of the crust, and promptly sliced off a huge hunk to stick in the oven before slathering with Wisconsin butter and honey from Suttons Bay, Michigan.

The crisp crust, holey interior, and delicious crumb made my heart melt with happiness (remembered tastes) and sadness (that returning home-less-ness feeling). I laced up my tennis shoes and went for a long walk, following the sandy shores of the lake and allowing the waves to ease my sadness. I imagined life on the other side of the Lake. I thought about my life here. I came home and ate dinner whilst reading the Zingy's newsletter that was so thoughtfully included in my package. I smiled to read about how the Bakehouse bakers worked with Michael London, a man I had just read about a few nights ago in this bread book I'm reading. (I know, first pies, and now bread. I'm wondering when I'm going to stumble on the cake book!).

I hate spending my now dreaming of the future and revisiting the past more than enjoying the moment, but sometimes, my mind makes its own way through the meandering web of time. I started scheming about multiple Zingy's trips over holiday break...and I can't wait to walk through those doors and hit the chaos and the profusion of gastronomic goodness that I so love and think of as my culinary HOME.


  1. I like the watershed idea in principal, but in practice I don't even try. I like too many foods far too much. The bread moment sounds perfect!

  2. What? But there's an Atlanta Bread Company right in Green Bay!

    Oh, ha ha ha...I kill me. ;)

  3. Hm. I actually posted a longer, more thoughtful comment, but it seems to have gotten lost in the interweb.

    The thing is, we're all going to have our contradictions. Our world has changed so much that I can't imagine it even possible to eat locally all the time. Especially in an area like Wisconsin (as opposed to, say, California).

    I appreciate the watershed idea in principle, like "blame it on paris" said, however, I do view some of the back to the pre-supermarket days nostalgia with a gimlet eye. Are we to go back to the day when a woman's role was to can and preserve all summer/autumn long, to prepare for winter? I'm not exactly planning on giving up my career for that.

    And, how local is local enough? Say you bought bread made by a Wisconsin baker? Where was that wheat grown? And, oh, what about the yeast? Is it local wild yeast, or cultivated? See, it becomes an exercise in frustration to become totally "pure".

    So, we do the best we can. We make choices. And besides, the choice you made...it's not exactly as if you are supporting the Walmart empire. I say, enjoy your bread, guilt-free.

  4. thanks for your support, both of you! the bread moment continues to stretch out...this morning i toasted a slice for a simple breakfast (along with FLORIDA orange juice and coffee roasted in CHICAGO but grown in THREE CENTRAL AMERICAN PLACES). all i need was some FRENCH chocolate to make it the best breakfast ever. it's almost time for a big order from chocosphere.com.

    well, hell (said southern style, ya know), becky, i didn't know that ABC was right around the corner! at least they have sweet tea:)

    today i bought some *fancy* wisconsin cheese: pleasant ridge and stravecchio, a WI parmesan. i think they'll go nicely with the bread.

    good point about woman's role, becky.i always wait for someone to say that in class when we discuss the shifting foodways. you know, if those damned women just stayed home, we would all be eating better. quelle horror!!! in many ways my mostly independent ways allow me to indulge in my favorite world wide foods...hmmm.