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Jul 13

Written by: Jennifer Kumar, Cultural Adjustment Coach
Friday, July 13, 2007

I will use the second Friday of the month as appropriate (maybe not all months) to reflect on past posts based on feedback from browsers or my own experimentation with the information I have shared.  This month, I will reflect on the posting “What is a Locavore?” from May 7, 2007.           


It’s been just over two months since I posted this article.  Though it’s been a short time, I am affected by the food I eat daily, and due to this, I have continued to contemplate the ideas I posed in the article.


I love Indian food.  In the past few months, I went shopping at the Indian Store as I usually would to purchase curry leaves, bitter gourd (karela),  ivy gourd (kovakkai in Tamil- pictured), Taj Mahal tea bags, Desi dahi (yogurt), dhals (lentils), India variety rices, and variety of spices among other Indian fried snacks: achappam, murukku, plaintain chips, etc.  But this time, I went with a different thought in mind.  Wow!  Are we lucky to have many of these things here?  How far have many of these things traveled? I am quite sure none of these things are made or grown in Rochester.  Some fried snacks may be made in New York City or New Jersey, some vegetables may be grown in US, but not close to home.  What price** am I paying for the vegetable or ready made foods and what price am I paying for transporting this to me?   If I wanted to be a localvore, I guess almost all of these items would be off my list! 


But, I have to say, a loss of what to eat is not only with international cuisine, but cuisine we consider to be American like Georgia Peaches that make peach cobbler or peach pie, California Grapes that make grape juice or wine, Florida Oranges that makes orange juice, and other fruits and vegetables many Americans eat, but don’t realize how far they travel to be on our plates!Kovakkai.jpg


I have also considered some other things in buying such foods (this list is not exhaustive!):

1.  How long has it been since it was picked?

2.  How long has it traveled to be with me?

3.  How much pollution has this caused (from pesticides used to grow it, the gas used by machines used to till fields or pick the produce, to the gas used to transport it to me, to

even the fast food trash thrown away or other waste produced by the driver of the truck who bought it to this area)?

4.  How much food gets wasted in transport? (I am guessing not all grapes picked in California actually make it fresh to stores in New York.)

5.  How does the energy of the food change when it travels so far to our plates?


Many of these questions have philosophical answers and answers that may prevent us from wanting to eat certain foods if we come to know the answers.  However, our culture is structured in such a way that if we stop eating them, how would we live?  It’s not practical for all of us to quit our city lives and take up farming. 


Though I find it to be a bit more complicated, I also asked the same above questions about processed foods.  Since so much of the foods we consider fresh come from so far away, are they really fresh by the time they are in our homes?  Could I consider a “fresh grape” that travels from California to New York or a “fresh mango” that travels from India to US to be just as fresh as say a ‘processed’ white bread that was made in a bread factory one mile from my house?  I don’t have an answer to that.


** Price doesn’t just reflect economic price, but also price in terms of health (I, family, nation, world, environment, and culture), convenience, etc.



Growing Trust, Barbara Kingslover, Mother Earth News, June/July 2007

Kerala Cuisine

Photo of Kovakkai above from this site.

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Tags: localvore, locavore

Copyright ©2007 Jennifer Jayanthi Kumar


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