Lousy Smarch weather.
But it's April now, officially spring, and time for my last small change. Last month's change was "go to bed early", which I did. Sort of. When baby wasn't up late for whatever nefarious reasons that babies stay up late, or if I wasn't kept up with a buzzing brain (more on that later). The main idea was to keep the computer off more often than not, and I did my part there. Lots of non-computer work was done, the lights were kept to a minimum. Success.
April's change was difficult to decide on because I struggle with the context, but I've recently come to a kind of detente with the issue. As of this Thursday the farmer's market is open again for the season, so we will: eat local. Not "eat local" entirely, which is I suppose an admirable goal, but eat local produce daily, as much as possible, plan our meals to be more in tune with the growing season and do some preserving. I haven't been buying out of season fruit for a while, but we also haven't been really good about hitting the market on weekends. Now it's time to make that happen.
I still have a lot of questions about the whole locavore thing, which I feel aren't sufficiently answered by what I've read. To take one example: whether or not to eat meat. I have a friend whose One Small Change this month is to reduce meat consumption to be more environmentally responsible and humane, and I have a friend who has abandoned veganism because she feels that eating locally-raised pastured animals instead of an all-plant diet is more environmentally responsible and healthy. There's a whole movement right now to promote the consumption of saturated animal fats, and then there is a bunch of research that suggests not only that the exact opposite is healthier, but that eating meat totally eclipses the benefits of eating local. There is just a lot of conflicting information out there. While a lot of these questions can (and should) be hashed out using actual, high-quality data, I think Michal Pollan is probably right about his Food Rules: eat real food, try to keep it in season, avoid sugar and eating too much. I'd add: if you feel comfortable eating animals, eat less of them, and only the ones who weren't treated like objects. If you don't want to eat animals, there is nowhere near sufficient research to suggest that there is a health problem with that. You can rock a local diet and still be vegan or vegetarian or pescatarian or whatever, and decades of research has your back no matter how much crap Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver want to give you. Just don't be what my midwife calls "pizza vegetarians",subsisting on bread and cheese. Vegetables, in abundance. Three servings a day is not abundance.
There is also the question of whether a planet of 7 billion (SEVEN. BILLION.) people can be fed by local organic producers. Someone answer that for me with data. I want a peer-reviewed analysis. It does not seem to be forthcoming. Overall, the issues that eating touches on are myriad: personal health, environmental health, animal treatment, global economics, socioeconomics. There are questions of efficiency, affordability, access, privilege, race, class and gender. Yes, gender: who is cooking all of these meals from scratch, spending many extra hours planning and shopping and cooking? Where your food comes from is not an apolitical issue. It evades easy answers.
But, for me, it finally came down to this: fresh produce is good for our bodies; organics are easier on the environment, especially when they don't have to travel far; while my household is low-income (different from poverty...it's good to know the distinction), we have a steady income (for now) and can afford the fresh produce; our local farmers have self-chosen their careers, seem to enjoy them and have access to the urban amenities of a developed nation (which isn't true everywhere). It seems good to support them since we can. There is, I will admit, the little (and sometimes abrasively elitist) issue of taste. My friend gave us a jar of home-canned dill pickles and THEY WERE AMAZING. My kid ate all of the pickles and then made me dig out the garlic cloves, which she also ate. My husband couldn't figure out why she had such terrible breath.
Despite my reservations and qualifications, this change seems like a good idea.
I like food.