Local for a day? Not a chance.

After a strong commitment from me that I would try to eat food that was only grown locally, I would learn quickly with a growing hunger that the commitment would not be as easy as I first perhaps thought. On Wednesday (2/6), I committed myself to the challenge of trying to figure out where the stuff I was eating came from, and if it originated from a place within about 100 miles of Palo Alto.

That morning right after I took a shower, I went over to the kitchen to make a small breakfast. I had checked my bread to see where it had been shipped from. Discovering it was from Illinois, I had to decline a piece of bread. Looking over at the bottle of peanut butter I was thinking of placing over my bread, Ohio. It did not take long for me to understand after going through product after product of anything I could eat for breakfast that none of my food had originated from really anywhere close to 100 miles. The closest was the bag of frozen tater tots which came from Idaho, wisely assuming that the potatoes were from Idaho. I decided to leave the house hungry, and cranky to my volunteer position at the hospital.

At lunch, I had went to the cafeteria to see what was being served that day. I decided on getting a long sub sandwich, but did not know if food was local (I had a very strong feeling it was not). I went to the person attending the stand and asked. She replied with a resounding,

“I don’t know, why don’t you ask the supervisor?”

At that moment, I went over to the supervisor, asking the same question. Again, I received a similar response.

“I don’t know, why do you even care anyway?”

I held back in telling her my true intent, but the allure of the smell of pizza and looking at the sandwiches being made overcame my will to continue with my “local for a day” crusade. It was at that moment that out of hunger and crankiness, went over to purchase the sandwich, at which the attendant said,

“Did you find your answer?”

“No. At least not the one I was hoping for anyway.”

It was then that I had broken the pledge, seemingly too difficult to maintain and faltering against the strength of my hunger. The rest of the day maintained a sense of heightened awareness to the idea that the food I was eating for dinner was most likely not grown locally. It also showed me to think, “Why is so much of the food in my own house, and to the places I go all the time from around other places in the country?” I also with some humor asked, “Imagine if Idaho was suddenly wiped off the map, that would devastate the potato crop and we would be all ‘potatoless.'”

It is definitely not something that can be taken lightly. Being a locavore requires constant commitment to knowing where your food comes from at all times, something obviously the people at the cafeteria were not accustomed to being asked. It takes a tremendous amount of energy just to investigate, and an entirely different level of commitment to maintain such a position. I can say with full honesty that I cannot live my life as it is now without the rest of the country making produce and food products for me.


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