Friday, August 19, 2005

How I Eat Local

The family and I had a delicious lunch today of assorted bruschettas (how do you say it?), and I think the lunch illustrates some of my do's and don'ts on eating local.

Here's what he ate that could be called local: kale, swiss chard, tomatoes, garlic, onions, bread baked at Bittersweet bakery.

Here's what we ate that was not local: olive oil, Portuguese tinned sardines, Pecarino Romano cheese, Turkish olive oil (and I am sure, the ingredients in the Bittersweet bread).

I feel I made no compromises. Cheated not one bit. Why? In my theory of eating local, anything that can be effectively shipped with no degradation of quality is as good as local. Another way I might put it, if people could reasonably eat it in Chicago 100 years ago, it's legitimate to eat today. It means that I am not restricted to cooking with butter or lard. It means Stilton as well as Maytag. It also means citrus in season because I think there is little degradation in quality. It surely allows for bananas, and because these products were part of the Chicago culinary scene for a long, long time, shrimps and oysters. On the other hand, I make no exception for modern transport. Sure, a fish caught in Hawaii can be in my kitchen with a day of it being hauled in, but I won't count that. I do not count that mostly because it is highly unrealistic that I can truly get such fresh food. I am not Thomas Keller.

As long as we are the subject, and I have alluded to this already, but I am too cheap to fully commit to eating just local meat. I like to think that I treat meat a bit in the Mediterranean fashion, as an infrequent luxury, but I am too American. So, there are times where I will give in and buy supermarket meat.

That's the basic of how I eat local. Come back in December and see how I am faring. That's when the challenge kicks in.

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