I have to think about food way more than I used to – or differently than I am used to. Tomorrow I am going to a Regional Transition Convergence in Seattle where mostly local (to Seattle? Bellingham? 100 miles?) food will be lovingly prepared but I now feel like someone with food sensitivities… so picky about source that I might as well bmo – bring my own.
I’ve already realized that for this 10 mile eating to work over the long haul (if I even want to work it), I’d need to assume 10 miles from wherever I am, not from Langley WA. How can I go to Brazil for a month otherwise. A suitcase full of Zackers and Zookies? No, there 10 miles would be avocados, papayas, mangoes, greens and fish.
But for this meeting I’m not sure where the food is from, and given that I am fiercely loyal to my word about 10 mile eating for this month, I need to think about how I will satisfy my hunger. A whole day into the evening of hunger.
So I am packing like the Russian peasants I saw on an Aeroflot plane back in 1966 when it was still the USSR. The plane was a reject from a toy factory for starters. It was touch and go whether we would touch down safely and go on our way. But then I watched the other passengers – all Russians as this was the era when few Americans could enter the country. They were dressed like the people who boarded third class trains in Spain – bundled in dark dowdy clothes and carrying – of all things – livestock along with their baskets of food.
This is life in the “less developed world” – if you are deathly ill you need to bring your family to the hospital to cook for you and feed you. You need to bring your livestock on holidays to Odessa (touch of irony here, but not totally). You can’t assume there will be food when the train stops in the dead of night because a cow is on the tracks or something breaks and you must wait for another train to pick you up. In two days.
We here are awash in food. We never doubt that there will be food where we are going – and plenty to eat on the way (except, now, for airplanes where perhaps eventually we WILL bring our chickens). There are grocery stores, convenience stores, snack machines, snack bars, restaurants, cafes, street vendors, mom and pop shops. We live here in a mountain of food. Actually we move mountains of food every day. Stocking shelves, cooking at restaurants and institutions and homes, serving, eating. An tidal wave of food flowing through us.
But I’m being fed through a little straw this month and I need to bring my own food tomorrow. Steamed green beans and broccoli. Salad. 2 apples. Some sliced meat from my yummy pot roast dinner (best yet). Carrots from my garden. I’ll be like a mom with an infant – a big bag of necessities to get through the day.
This experiment in hyper-local eating is not preparing for the third world to come to the first world. I’m not assuming a sustained 10 mile diet for any of us. I don’t see immanent collapses of the global food supply chains. I’m not even secretly rooting for it as a comeuppance for our arrogance.
I am also not teaching you about a 10 mile diet. The 10 mile diet is my teacher. It is transforming my relationship with food, eating, justice, body… who knows where this will go by the end of the month. 15 days. But who’s counting?