Friday, December 4, 2009

Wrapping up Plenty

The year is 2003 - I am helping my kindergartener in the bathtub when she asks "When will I be able to bring 'Lunchables' to school for my lunch?" "Never" I respond. "Why not" she wants to know. And so she learns more than probably any five-year olds wants to know about over-packaging, plastics, and waste. I do not even go into the high fat content and poor nutritional value. She is thoughtful for a moment then says "Well Karen's mother is stupid. Karen always brings lunchables to school." So, the last thing I need is for my daughter to tell someone in her class that her mother is stupid and I explain that she's not stupid, she just hasn't thought about things the same way we have. We try to live our lives by healthy and happy example, and hope that others see how beneficial our lifestyle is, not only to ourselves, but to others as well. and perhaps they will learn by our example. She accepts this and doesn't mention lunchables again.

When I read books like Smith and MacKinnons I am grateful that people like them will take on the burden of setting an example for people like me. I doubt I will ever go so deep into the local eating culture that I attempt what they did, but they have certainly taught me that I can do a lot more with the the harvest provided by my New England location. This summer I learned that I like beets. But I didn't use the tops. Maybe next year I will make an effort to find out how to prepare those. My local farmer provides recipes with my CSA and I have two shelves worth of cookbooks in my kitchen.

Like some of the other authors I've read this year, Smith and MacKinnon are changed by their experiment. They are not salivating as they await the first of spring so they can gorge on all they have missed out on. They have learned to enjoy what has become their diet, and have their usual breakfast the next morning. Although they gradually add back in some of the things they were missing to their diet, they maintain their focus on local foods. Additionally, the local food experiment added something new to their diet - meat. They started out by adding fish to what had been a purely vegetarian diet, and by the end of the year they eat red meat for the first time in almost two decades. What they have learned is to honor all food. They know the farmer who provided the beef, and have a lot more confidence that the meat does not contain harmful bacteria than they would had they bought it at a grocery store. For more information on "feedlot" beef read this story from the New York Times.

Find out more about Smith and MacKinnon's local eating project at

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