Let Us Eat Local

Let Us Eat Local is not just a fundraising event for Just Food. It’s a showcase of how delicious locally grown can be. Divorced from the tiring dialogue of food miles, local shows that it’s not just from X number of miles away. Local food is also about the idea of a farmer as not just the producer of commodities, but as an artisan with the magical ability to raise up succulent perfect tomatoes from the Earth. When I made the slide show for the event, which featured pictures of these farmers and their handiwork, that is what I wanted to portray. It’s unfortunate that most people at the event already know this. I would have loved to have seen locavore naysayers like Anthony Bourdain try to naysay while choking down Marlow & Son’s luxuriously fatty porkbelly with brightly tart grilled peaches. Of course local food is about other things besides pure hedonism, but this hedonism doesn’t get enough press as far as I’m concerned. Too many articles I’ve read about local food are exercises in calculating abstract reasons why we should eat one way or another.

I was happy to see Bourdain in his Outer Boroughs show chow down on the hamburger from Diner. That burger is not just made with local ingredients, it’s made with the best ingredients. You should order it rare and savor the unctuous silkiness of the beef. Grass-fed beef has its detractors, but I think they don’t get that it’s like a wine and each vintage tastes a particularly way, for better or worse, based on the life of the organism. In this case, the beef is the story of a cow from how its mother nursed it with colostrum to the particular strain of pink clover it favored while out to pasture.

Bourdain would also approve of the local food movement’s love affair with offal, which I have reluctantly become embroiled with. Whole animals raised so carefully are valuable from nose to tail. That means greater appreciation for things like kidneys, which I couldn’t say no to when chef Jacque from Palo Santo offered me them in a taco so enthusiastically. The whole taco was so delicious, so perfectly spiced and dripping with salsa, that I forgot that the offer initially gave me pause.

A picture I, sadly, did not take.

Giving up meat may calculate better in some economics spreadsheet, but in the end Boca Burgers aren’t going to support the kind of economy I want to see that fosters farmers as artisans and stewards of the soil rather than as variables producing X numbers of soybeans. And I say that earnestly, even as I proudly have as bachelors in science in agricultural economics…it’s not going to govern the way I personally eat.

Pictures of the event
Village Voice


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