Monday, February 25, 2008

What's the goal here?

I've been reading a lot about taking some sort of 'local eating pledge.' People seem to ache to limit themselves in some way that is going to make them feel deprived. It's not good enough simply to view it as a work in progress -- it has to be all or nothing.

I disagree with the entire no-pain, no-gain concept.

I'm all for goals. By all means set a goal! But if meeting that goal is going to make you miserable, you're letting the tail wag the dog. One of the most delightful aspects of eating locally is rediscovering the joy of traditional eating. Depriving yourself of something you enjoy will inevitably turn this process into one that has an end, like Lent. After which, one might suppose, you can go back to eating all your favorite convenience chemofoods with a new sense of accomplishment. After all, you met your goal, right? If your local eating pledge has you counting the days until you can have an orange or a piece of chocolate, you've set yourself up for failure.

The goal should be to change for the better over the course of our lives in ways we can live with and to enjoy the process. Rather than planning to eat zero commercially canned fruit, plan to put up more preserves than you did last summer, or put up more varieties. Rather than asking yourself to cook every meal from scratch using local ingredients, ask yourself to add a dozen more seasonably-oriented recipes to your collection. Vow to find a source for beans closer to home than last year's source. Vow to make a visit to one of the farms that provides your food. Vow to enjoy discovering just how many locally-produced sustainably-raised traditional whole foods are available to you. But don't vow to make yourself crazy with it.