Local? Or, Maybe Just a Tad Too Provincial?


lettuceherbsSo what’s the difference?

I’ve been mulling over the distinction between celebrating the local and being gripped by naive xenophobia, especially in the wake of Brexis and recent American elections. (In the same way I’ve been painfully pondering my love of postmodern linguistic play and trying to separate it from “alternate truths.”) So I’ve had to ask myself how insisting upon local tree-ripened apples is different somehow from both nationalism and the untutored, if charming, desire to believe that wherever we live right now is the best of all possible worlds.

In the wake of the election I almost gave up localism.

Almost.

rosesBut I changed my mind.

Localism values the unique, the particular and the different. Rather than eliminating the diverse, the localist finds and delights in the singular. It’s localism that frees us from only knowing Delicious Apples, delicious indeed as they might be. If we value the local we can seek out (in So Cal) the Pettingill Apple grown almost exclusively in Long Beach, the Gordon Apple that was developed in Whittier and the tiny red Beverly Hills Apple that requires only a few days of chill to become red-cheeked and sweet.The localist, rather than seeking some monolithic whole opts to experience the delicate fragments offered by individual communities. More than 3000 types of chili peppers exist and hundreds of them can be found here in Southern California. The local eater gets the thrill.

Living local means, I think, living in the present with all of its complex specifics. It means interacting with the independent shop keeper and tasting their samples of jalapeƱo jam. I means walking your city block and really seeing it. It means trading uniformity for flavor, talking to a person rather than merely texting, feeling the tomatoes instead of ordering them online. It means Be Here Now.

This is the very opposite of a nationalism that constantly seeks a mythic past, or a provincialism that judges all things by one measure

But enough of this. Be Here Now.

I went for a walk in the Botanical Gardens. I practiced yoga. And yes, getting ready for a month of vegan blogging and cooking I made vegan albondigas soup. I found the world’s best seedless, organic local watermelon and–get this–12 pounds of plump, mahogany tasting medjool dates that greew just 35 miles away. I have to go eat.

More later–and pictures.

 

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