Just as there are many people in this country who hate Walmart, there are many more who love it. Where else can you go and buy everything you need in one spot? Somewhere there is a little boy or girl who believes that items such as apples, carrots, and lettuce come from bins in supermarkets where automatic misters spray dew over them. All of the access that we have to food (a luxury for some) is viewed as a good thing, but is it realistic? Agribusiness and major supermarket chains are dependent on fossil fuels, which are non renewable. It is only logical to think that when fossil fuels are on their last legs, so will be the long distance transportation of food. Sooner or later (rather sooner) there is going to be a need for a major reform of how we think of our food as well as how it is grown and produced.
I believe that the seeds of the “food revolution” are growing and beginning to flourish. The proof of this is in cities such as Portland, Oregon (the one in Maine too) and restaurants like The Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Virginia where, when in season, 70 percent of the menu is from local farmers. In the book Eat Here, by Brian Halweil, he talks about Centerville Farmers Market in Lincoln, Nebraska. It is here that a collective of local farmers and food producers sell their products in one spot. The concept is genius and gives consumers the same easy access to food that they have at places like Walmart, with the knowledge of exactly where the food came from and even who grew it.
The word “global” pops up quite a few times in Halweil’s text and I can’t help but wonder if globalization and the commoditization of food is the problem. It’s not just the States, but also many other countries that are dealing with their own food revolutions. Chef Jamie Oliver has helped bring awareness and change within the school lunch system in England. Farmers in Norway are slowly starting to realize that they have the power to influence and educate by marketing directly to the consumers. During my stay in Sligo County, Ireland, last year I saw for myself the changes that are slowly taking place when it comes to the environment and food. Painfully slow reform is taking place, but for now we will still be receiving apples from China even though we are capable of growing them ourselves.
The title of Halweil’s book reminds me that we have choices we can make about what we eat. We also have the ability to have a thought process, gain knowledge, and understand. What we put in our bodies nourishes us and keeps us going. As a member of the hospitality industry and as a consumer I value the education that I have when it comes to food, because I believe it is important to know the origin of my food and, for me, local is as intimate as it gets.