c is for cat

Rules for Anchorites

Letters from Proxima Thule


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I'm unimpressed with the locavore movement because, in my geographical area, it would mean no fresh fruit for 75% of the year that I am not severely allergic to (apples, pears, anything with a stone: all of them make my throat hideously irritated unless they're cooked).

Yeah, the locavores either forget that most places don't have a California growing season or redefine local to mean within 1000 miles, the state, or the country.

I see this sort of thing as a set of trade-offs, with one of the biggest and most compelling on an individual level, just after "being able to feed yourself at all" as doing things that work for us all as individuals, with the bodies we have.

I'm almost entirely vegan. Almost because I'll eat things with eggs in them, sometimes, if I feel like it, though eggs in a pure state seem less and less like food. (I wouldn't be this close to vegan, I suspect, were I not allergic to dairy.) And it's *complicated*. I like eating lower on the food chain. But, more importantly, it also really works well for my body. In fact, after the first time I became vegetarian, my body never really did adapt back to eating meat, even though I ate meat semi-regularly for about ten years in there while I was married. I'm not a don't hurt the cute fluffy animals sort of vegan... well, I kind of am, but I think more not, because I'm also a neurobiologist and do terminal animal experiments. So I suspect that disqualifies me. But I have a number of friends who have had the opposite experience. They stopped eating meat, or eating all animal products, and their bodies hated it and insisted on sulking and not really working right over long periods, even with an awful lot of nutritional expertise. (Some of them persevered far longer than I would have in their shoes.) There's a balance, I think, between health and philosophy, and everyone gets to negotiate their own.

And I think all of the above is even remotely relevant because it's pretty much how I feel about locavorism. I've been a moderate-core locavore in both Seattle and Cleveland, neither of which place has a California growing season. (Moderate core means that I was excluding dry goods - though I could probably not exclude dry goods now that I'm tied into the incredible locally grown grain network - and every February I broke down and got a few Mexican peppers and zucchini. I did a much stricter version of things May-October a few years. Some year I'll have the spare cycles to do a full year...) But hey, my body adores the apples and brassicas. (It's too bad, in some ways, that I don't do animal products, because oh! the organic free range meats! the artisan cheeses!) Meanwhile, when I don't have the time, I still try to buy locally when I can (wonderful local farmers who are figuring out how to do greens all winter in a sustainable way!) but I buy a lot of other stuff too. It's all a balancing act between environment, health, and aesthetics.

I don't think these things have to be, or are even best when treated as absolutes. It's useful to think about our food. And our other stuff. And where it comes from, and what it means. I know some folks are prissy and holier-than-thou about it all, but I don't think being exclusive that way contributes that effectively to a larger goal of helping make a better world.

Thank you so much for "everyone gets to negotiate their own"....

(realllly tired of the one-size-fits-all and the "if you do what I believe, we'll all live happily ever after"; want to throttle all the no-grey-areas politicians...)

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