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602 S. Gay Street
Knoxville, TN 37902
I am dissatisfied with the conclusion at the end of the superbly comprehensive “Eat Here Now” article published in the Oct. 20 vol. 21/issue 42 of Metro Pulse. After providing an in-depth examination of the “locavore” movement, your conclusion was hasty and subjective. It did not reflect the wealth of research and effort that you put into writing the article, and I’d like to offer my critique.
You criticize the locavore movement as limiting the Knoxville palate by excluding foods that are not produced locally, such as olive oil (one of my personal favorites). This is a good point. But the idea that your average locavore is unwilling to compromise here and there for certain food stuffs is as unrealistic as the idea that Knoxville could ever sustain the production of such an eclectic agrarian society as to provide its every culinary want and need.
In reality, most locavores probably aren’t entirely interested in a Knoxvillle cornucopia, or building checkpoints on the freeways to keep produce and livestock trucks out of the county; they’re interested in shopping, buying, and eating consciously. Being a college town, Knoxville has a high incidence of educated people crowding it up with their high-flung ideals and newfangled ideas. One of these, which seems to have taken root elsewhere across the nation, is the idea that we as individuals are responsible for taking steps to improve our economy, both in terms of its ethics and solvency.
You cited natural disasters as one reason local agriculture is flawed. This is true. A localized disaster could cripple our production, requiring the hasty reinstatement of imported food to our area, costing God-knows how much in taxpayer money. The alternative is to rely on federally subsidized mega-agriculture produced in mostly remote areas of the country, or foreign countries. The proponent of local agriculture will argue that trends in the economic climate trend toward decline and the potential for disaster, and advise that cultivating a more self-sustaining and proficient local culture can help protect one’s local environment against scarcity, should economic or agricultural decline occur on a national level.
Our dependency on transported and remotely cultivated goods is dissatisfying to us, on a fundamental level, because it highlights a glaring weakness within ourselves; we are no longer capable of such a basic function as feeding ourselves.
Sure, not having to produce your own food opens up avenues of progress in society that would otherwise be unavailable if you had to spend all your time tending to a subsistence farm, but it certainly engenders a laziness that will prove detrimental as times become more difficult, and our options more limited. Lassitude is very hard to kill, and our dependence on dangerously susceptible food supplies and the exportation of our communal wealth will most likely prove disastrous, if some solution is not arrived at that lets us balance the needs of our community with our need to feed.