Saturday, February 13, 2010
CLOSING THE BORDERS, CLOSING THE MIND
There is much to be said for locavores. A focus on locally grown food might is probably an excellent way to help support the local economy and downsize one's carbon footprint at the same time. But is the locavore movement for everyone? I doubt it. For one thing, food patriotism and hints at isolationism. It hints at accommodations many of us are not willing to make. In my case, my physical locus West Virginia, but my emotional loci are many. It is sense to choose locally grown apples over those from New Zealand, but must I give up Florida citrus? Perhaps I got the locavore movement wrong. Perhaps it is possible act locally without closing the borders. I don't know.
I do know that home and food are interconnected. The question is, how can one put in practice the tenets of the locavore movement without shutting oneself away from the outside world? Food and home are at the heart of political movements. History tells us what happen when political trends dictate how one should live, what, where and how one should eat. In THE WHISPERERS, his brilliant analysis of Stalinist policies and their effect on Soviet society. Orlando Figes makes it clear that whoever controls the food supply controls history itself. Stalin tried to transform Soviet citizens into people for whom home and family had no meaning. He saw the family table as an impediment to the change he wanted to effect.. He was probably right. Soviet cafeterias no doubt helped dissipate cloying bourgeois vapors. Then again, Russia is Stalinist no more and millions of Russians have gone back to their own tables with a vengeance.
It is wrong to equate locavores with Stalin's minions. So far, eating only that which is produced locally is a matter of choice. Still, the very thought of patriotic food makes me wonder if it could not become the last refuge of scoundrels. Remember Freedom Fries? I do. Sure I will buy West Virginia apples, but I will also buy Florida lemons and mangoes, damn it.