August 27, 2013

Why don't those who advocate locavore cooking and native plants in gardening...

... also oppose traveling to foreign places?

Once you make it a matter of principle that we should eat and garden within our local environment of plants and animals, shouldn't you recognize yourself as an animal, belonging properly to your area, and refrain from sojourns to exotic places? Perhaps you ought to restrict yourself to a walkable radius?

This post has 2 points:

1. To notice the incompleteness of the ideology of ideologues.

2. To explore the philosophy of travel.

ADDED: What would be the word for moving about only locally, the word to correspond to "locavore"? Shouldn't it be locomotive? According to the OED, "locomotive" is composed of the Latin locō (the ablative of locus, which means "place") and motivus (which means "motive" or that which causes motion). 

"Locavore" is not in the OED, but I wonder what the "a" is doing in that word. Wikitionary shows the etymology as "From loca- by analogy with local, location, locomotive, locus, and so on, and -vore by analogy with carnivore, herbivore, and so on. Coined by Jen Maiser, Jessica Prentice, Sage Van Wing, and DeDe Sampson, co-founders of the 'Locavores' Web site." Was it ignorance of Latin roots or fear of being taken to be loco (i.e., crazy)?

68 comments:

Paco Wové said...

To an outsider, an ideology is always fringed 'round by hypocrisy.

Uncle Pavian said...

My guess is, the locavores gain moral superiority by not eating anything from outside their county, They would never travel by air to some distant place for an unworthy purpose, which allows them to claim more moral superiority.
They're just better than you are, and this is how they prove it, at least to themselves, "you" in this case being everybody who doesn't eat locally and who travels for unworthy purposes.

William said...

To resolve this paradox I suggest that they travel to the highland regions of Papua.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Locavores, in my experience, don't mean you to eat only plants originally from your locality; indeed, they couldn't, because most of the fruits and vegetables we grow originated somewhere else than where they are grown now. The idea is to minimize the long-range transportation of foods that could be (and often are) grown closer to home. It's not about where the cultivar comes from, but about how long the physical vegetable has to travel before it reaches you. In other words, grow asparagus, or Thai chiles, or fenugreek, or whatever you like; just don't get all your asparagus from South America. Grow it yourself, and when it's out of season, eat something else. That's the idea, anyway.


Xeriscaping (which is what I think you mean about only using native plants in gardening) is meant as a counter to vast lawns in the Southwest. Grow gardens that are adapted to arid climates, rather than lavishing scarce water on gardens full of plants that aren't.

Neither has, to me, anything to do with whether you should travel. Locavore-ism is practically founded on travel, because if seeds and cultivars hadn't traveled, we'd have nothing like the local food resources we do.

Farmer said...

I have to travel for work a few times a year on multi-city jaunts. I hate it. I almost never travel for non-work reasons. I don't understand why other people like traveling. I've been all over the country and much of Europe and I can't think of many region-specific experiences that have made anything like an important difference in my life. Most of what I remember about the particularly memorable cities are emotions, and occasionally very small moments. A late dinner alone in an empty dining room at the Park Hotel in Helsinki, and dropping off my laundry to be washed by a woman at the laundromat the next morning. Walking back to the hotel from a club at night in what seemed like an unusually quiet Hollywood. On my last trip to Manhattan, seeing a nervous-looking Asian guy in his twenties in a t-shirt that said "Add Me As A Friend" trying to cross against the light, then hopping back, and doing it again, and hopping back again. Those are the types of things that stay with me. They're not worth the expense and headache of traveling.

And flying gets worse every year. There seems to be less legroom every time I step on a plane.

There's so much to do within short drives from Madison I just can't see spending a lot of time, money and travel on a vacation somewhere else.

Brian said...

The distribution of H. sapiens ourselves is a fundamental limit of the concept of "native". It is not that the native-plant-growing-traveler has failed to think through his ideology; it is that the question of human travel lies outside the bounds of what can be described by this ideology.

Steve B said...

There's an aesthetic aspect: One can be for locavore cooking (because it tastes better and hasn't spent days on a truck) and respect the use of native plants in gardening (because it keeps the unique biosphere and beauty of an area intact) and still want to travel. Indeed, travel would be a lovely way to explore the unique (local) foods and biospheres of other areas.

There's a blandness that occurs (and is sometimes comforting) when the same foods and plants are available everywhere, but it's not very interesting, and sometimes it's not very pretty.

Anyway, that's my guess, but I'm not exactly a hardcore locavore myself. I agree that there is some inconsistency, perhaps the hardcore locavore would argue that humans are themselves not a "native" species in much of the globe. It can't be helped--unless you want to relocate to the Serengeti--so we might as well make the best of it (and travel).

ALP said...

Damn, damn good question! This is one of my favorite Althouse subjects: the hypocrisy of many world travelers.

Another issue I have with the subject is how many globe-trotters advocate the idea that the only true path to self knowledge is to travel abroad. By this logic, then, prior to the advent of accessible, affordable foreign travel, knowing 'the self' was terribly difficult, if not downright impossible. There are a multitude of ways that a person could challenge themselves throughout their lifetime to encourage self-development, such as writing: raising a child or two, volunteer/selfless work in one's community, athletic competition....

No, self knowledge was in short supply before the days of Expedia.

Finally, when you live in the bigger cities in the US - the world come to you in the form of immigrants from every corner of the globe. Talk to those people - you'll learn quite a bit about the US and how it is seen from outside its borders.

Henry said...

There is no place for modern humans to be local. So they might as well travel.

There is certainly an ecological literature that prefers to treat people (other people) as invasive species -- and so we are.

I prefer to look at locavore cooking and native ecology from a more conservative point of view. Local food tastes better fresh and the farms make for a richer community. Invasive plants drive out the native.

We tore up a bunch of barberry and fire bushes when we bought our house and ground them to mulch.

Behind the barn is a row of dead Elm trees. It's too late for them.

Foobarista said...

...because that would be no fun. It's all about being seen as conspicuously righteous in one's consumption.

Frankly, I could care less about such things, but for those into carbon-footprint scorekeeping, you could ship dozens of containers across the Pacific for the carbon footprint of one coach-class seat on a flight to Paris or London. The most CO2-intensive bit of the journey is from grocery store to your house.

MadisonMan said...

There is, as present, no snob appeal associated with the I don't travel because it's harmful for the environment argument. Perhaps I'll try that out next time a neighbor is regaling me with stories about their trip to SE Asia, or New Zealand.

Still lots of snob appeal with the I only eat local statement however.

traditionalguy said...

Travel is for the curious and open minded who are interested in knowing something about other cultures. (The USA has at least 7 distinct cultural areas.)

Thinking that travel outside your settled area is seldom worth an effort is a safety first thought.

Both are right, so to each their own.

D. Luthor said...

Its just like the vegans wearing leather shoes (very common).... the Occupy protesters who choose to carry a Citibank credit card instead of one from their local credit union (also very common).... and the person with some sort of Buy America First bumper sticker on a Ford that is made in Mexico. Again, also very common.

Mountain Maven said...

Incompleteness? How about logically fallacious and intellectually bankrupt? I have read about the left telling themselves that they need some kind of underlying philosophical framework for their beliefs. That means they don't have one.(How about Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?)
There is no coherence to the beliefs of the modern progressive. That's a nice way of saying that they are driven by emotion, peer pressure and media indoctrination.
The result is that they have created a religion based on a pot full of irrational and contradictory notions. Sacrements of the religion, let's call it "Gaia-ism", include food obsession, recycling, prius buying, abortion, endless hectoring about climate change, nominal membership in litigious non-profits. Meanwhile the 2nd car is a Suburban and the vacations involve jet travel. there is no community service, charitable contributions. (Conservatives do those things.) Hypocrisy, self-righteousness, and a belief that they know better than the rest of us how we should run our lives is their hallmark. Out of that comes a disregard for the democratic process; everything they can't legislate, they litigate.
As has been said many times, "When they start acting like it's a crisis I'll start listening."

tim maguire said...

I've always been amused by the love of travel exhibited by global warming alarmists. It is ironic but not surprising that the average alarmist has a larger carbon footprint than the average skeptic.

But while virtually all locavores are alarmists, I don't think it necessarily follows that opposition to a large and extensive food-transport industry requires an opposition to at least some personal travel.

For instance, one could bemoan the cutting of central and south american jungle to grow vegetables or graze cattle designed to thrive elsewhere. One could oppose the genetic modification required to keep fruits and vegetables fresh for those long trips. One could lament the economic pressure on local farming caused by third-world food imports, the spread of invasive species and foreign diseases, and the increased use of pesticides and other chemicals of little-understood safety required to grow and move things far from where they evolved.

None of this requires an elimination of personal travel for consistency.

Centurea said...

You're thinking like a housecat. Real life animals don't "[belong] properly to [an] area." Many animals regularly travel thousands of miles. Many change areas as the year progresses or circumstances dictate. It's not the ideology that is incomplete, it's your appreciation of natural diversity.

Andy Freeman said...

As a friend of mine says, "it's not about that". The locavore lifestyle is intended to make its adherents feel superior and possibly to bully others. The only "incompleteness" is that they've been unsuccessful in getting govt to go along wrt the latter.

Foobarista said...

To be a bit more generous, restricting travel means restricting trade and migration, and most people who adopt such ideologies don't do so out of a personal aesthetic, but as what they'd take to be universalist approaches to life. In this sense, they're identical to devout religious followers of the various messianic religions.

Restricting travel means there's lots of the world you'd never experience. Restricting trade means you live at a primitive level, especially if you take it to extremes (ie, no electricity, running water, etc). Restricting migration means your very presence in the US is wrong, even for American Indians (who walked here across the Bering Strait land-bridge).

Once you start to get ideological about such things, it's turtles all the way down!

traditionalguy said...

I gave up and googled "locavore."

It appears to a name for a principle of eating ONLY locally grown foods only.

That would be sad for Mid-westerners limiting them to a Corn and Pork diet with milk and beer to drink and a side of cheese.

For fruits and vegetables california doofuses have it all over the other area locavores.

We are doing a Carmel trip next week where we can eat Salinas Valley veggies, Monterey Bay fish and local wineries (all good except artichokes which they can keep) and visit Steinbeck country, Big Sur and Carmel Mission.

elkh1 said...

Another question: Why do those who bellyache about human caused global warming travel in private jets?

Because they are our betters, they set rules for us, the little people, to obey.

Old RPM Daddy said...

I guess it might have to do with why you've decided to be a locavore. If you think you're helping local growers, or you think it's wasteful to eat food that had to be shipped over long distances, then the question of international travel doesn't even come into your decision.

On the other hand, if you're going locavore with the idea of reducing your carbon footprint, then restricting your own travel does make sense. Whether people make that connection, I don't know.

Moral stances aside, though, it doesn't matter what you think you're doing. It matters what you're actually doing. What would the locavore movement generate if adopted on a massive scale? Would more farmland be required? Can smaller localities grow enough food to feed themselves without the massive farms of Nebraska? There's lots of room for discussion here, even without the travel question.

lgv said...

I once had a customer sit at the table and ask if there were any animal derived ingredients in her formulas. She couldn't stand the idea of animal derived stuff in her products. I wanted to complement on her beautiful leather purse and leather shoes, and the luxurious seats in her Lexus.

It's really incomplete ideology due to justification creep (like mission creep). Locavores started out extolling the freshness and flavor of fresh, local fare. Health benefits were in there, too, although one can easily argue there is no real health benefit. The greenness of such sourcing was added later, just another marketing pitch, not well thought out.

Local sourcing isn't really green. The carbon footprint of delivered food would actually increase if we all went locavore.

It's the same with veganism. It's a philosophy, not a healthy lifestyle choice. In order to market the lifestyle, it has been refined in order to claim health benefits, when in reality it is a good, but lacking dietary practice.

dmoelling said...

I guess it's the appeal to knowing the grower (I never found that important) so the "locavore" is the same guy who says he is a "traveler not a tourist".

This is something you can do if you are wealthy enough to dispense with going for the lowest price so it signals status. Long distance travel is a sure status marker.

Carol said...

I think the locovore thing is a cover for open space advocacy. You know, tell these owners that they should keep their land open to grow tomatoes and stuff instead of subdividing. Or get some well meaning owners to sell the county an easement.

What I can't figure out is what succeeding owners, like heirs, do with 200 acres of field that has been used for nothing but growing hay. Do they have to keep growing hay?

Tibore said...

Well, idealistic, utopian-outlook types of ideologies do often have weighty contradictions and gaping holes. I'm simply not surprised that localvorism is as prone to this as any other ideology.

As far as travel: I say go as far as you can afford, and as far as technology allows. But that's me; some thrive while roaming free, some actually need close confines for themselves. It's just the way things are.

khesanh0802 said...

#1: Because hypocrisy runs rampant among those who demand that we change OUR behavior to suit them.

#2: Travel is important to get to places that have activities that I enjoy and can't experience as fully at home. Most of those place are in rural USA and present their own set of issues.

In general travel is a pain in the a** if you can't go luxury all the way. Have you flown in coach lately? Or gone through security? Find a decent place to eat in a new place ? - maybe. Super 8 is adequate but leaves a lot to be desired. I might do okay in NYC (if I could afford it) because I have spent a fair amount of time there. Any other city I feel like the original rube.

Of course I am getting "too old" to travel too. Stay home with good food and my own bed!

G Bugg said...

Well, many (though certainly not all) that I know who support locavore cooking do it for increased freshness, to support their local farmers and to create community. They do this when home and when they travel.

All kinds of mammals roam, to some extent. To subscribe to eating locally at any given location and then to do that, this seems fairly consistent.

MayBee said...

Stick to your own area like a humpback whale or a monarch butterfly? Like those kinds of animals?

bpm4532 said...

Pangea - it got me to wondering if there were other continents somewhere in the vast ocean that covered over half the planet.

However, the rubber duckies is also fascinating.

CJinPA said...

I guess they would say that eating local is a daily thing, while exotic travel is rare. And they probably own fewer cars and use more public transit than most. (Mainly because they are more likely to be childless and live in hip, dense areas. It's hard to be a locavore with a family, I would imagine.)

Alexander said...

Perhaps because except in extreme cases, no one really thinks of locavorism as a first principle, to be applied in all circumstances and triumphing over all other goals and principles?

grgeil said...

Along the same lines, shouldn't vegans and vegetarians be opposed to wind energy since the wind turbines kill so many migratory birds? If they won't eat birds, how can they stand to see them slaughtered in the production of supplemental, boutique energy?

Alex said...

It's just another manifestation of limo liberals.

David said...

"This post has two points."

Althouse is despairing over our critical reading and analytic skills, fellow commenters and readers. We need to step up our game.

Amexpat said...

Nomadic and migratory life was the norm many places in the world up until fairly recently. I suspect that some people need to travel because they are wired that way.

Perhaps from an evolutionary perspective it makes sense to have some people that are inclined to stay in one area and others that want to explore new places.

Edward Lunny said...

Because travel affords them the opportunity to escape the choking restraints that they seek to impose upon everyone else. Well, that and their blinding ignorance and stupidity. You know, all that forest for the trees stuff.
Come on professor, all of those rules, regulations, and stipulations are only for the little people. The prols get a pass or an out, or both.

bandmeeting said...

I see it as an apples to oranges argument. You can find locally grown tomatoes. If you want to see Hanoi......you've got to go to Hanoi.

Chris said...

If you should extend that philosophy to traveling outside your local area, should you also extend it to allowing people from outside your area in?

And if you keep people and their food out, don't you keep their culture, language, and ideas out, too (to some extent)?

I think it's just as well that locavore ideology remains incomplete. Let's not give 'em any ideas.

Ann Althouse said...

I just approved comments, so all comments before this point are people who haven't read each other's comments.

FYI.

Hunter said...

My grandfather was a locavore, living on his farm in Virginia.

I don't think he ever left the state either, but one of his cousins did - to France in WW I.

jr565 said...

Te philosophy of travel - the world is a big place, and you want to go to and see places that you've never been or seen.

Carol said...

Ok, trying to step up my game. It seems we're depending on a false assumption, one Rush is often guilty of, that "the same people who - " do X also do Y. It sound good but I really don't know that they do.

Name some examples.

jr565 said...

Being a locavore, based on a moral position, as opposed to location circumstances is something only a rich person living in a rich country would suggest.

Imagine someone living in a poor country that just went through a famine suggesting they are a locavore by choice.
You have the luxury of being a locavore because you live in a rich country with plenty of local farms that produce food which you can buy from the local whole foods, whereas poor populations are lucky if they have food at all.

traditionalguy said...

Locavores take note: The Salinas Valley in California produces plants so well that it (2010 figures) produced the following for the US market:
99% of all artichokes,
92% of all broccoli,
94% of all processing tomatoes,
94% of all celery,
86% of all garlic,
76% of all head lettuce,
67% of all carrots, and
58% of all asparagus.

Rusty said...

I bet here aren't many locavores in the California desert areas.
rattlesnake again!!
What IS considered a fauna radius to a locavore? Because mine includes the coast of Maine and the Gulf of Mexico.

doustoi said...

That canard about local foods being superior because they travel fewer "food miles" with less carbon output is aimed at junior high students.

Adults realize that the energy, resource, and pesticide input and the carbon output for small local farms is magnitudes greater per unit than it is for "factory farms" that feed the whole world.

Rusty said...

2. To explore the philosophy of travel.

To broaden ones mind and annoy people in new locales.

MarkD said...

Spiting Al Gore works for me.

RBB said...

How about locatourist or locatripper?

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ann,

"Locavore" is not in the OED, but I wonder what the "a" is doing in that word. Wikitionary shows the etymology as "From loca- by analogy with local, location, locomotive, locus, and so on, and -vore by analogy with carnivore, herbivore, and so on. Coined by Jen Maiser, Jessica Prentice, Sage Van Wing, and DeDe Sampson, co-founders of the 'Locavores' Web site." Was it ignorance of Latin roots or fear of being taken to be loco (i.e., crazy)?

My guess would be that they wanted to make it look like "local."

Somewhat similar case: Why have we got "introverts" and "extroverts"? The latter is surely wrong as a construction. It's "intro-" and "extra-", and, sure enough, if you poke about in early 20th-c. writing, there are "introverts" and "extraverts." But you can't find an extravert (one labeled as such, I mean) anywhere now. It's just that the "intro-" and "extro-" parallelism struck someone as useful.

hoyden said...

I like locavore a lot. Our local Wal Mart has great locavore. Everything I need is right there; no driving around all over town.

My only complaint is the $0.99 2-liter soda is way in the back of the store and sometimes I don't feel like going that far. I pay the price and get Coke up front.

Sometimes I like to expand my locavore by splurging on Route 11 potato chips from the Cracker Barrel out on the highway. If I'm in a really spendy mood I will order in some Jacob's world famous andouille. (http://www.cajunsausage.com/)

Travel is a lot simpler; if it's less than 1200 miles then I drive there. Otherwise weigh the options. Spend $1000 on travel to an exotic location or buy that ADS-B receiver I've had my eye on for a while. It's a no-brainer for me. I will appreciate that receiver long after I've lost the weight from all that food I ate on the exotic vacation.

MayBee said...

When people are-or historically have been- forced to eat only the foods available near them, it often causes people to migrate. If the choices is starve or move, you move if you can.

The US was populated in large part by people migrating to find food, or because their food sources had failed.

Rocketeer said...

Well, were I locavore, I would quickly tire of the limited selections imposed by hardiness zone and season. Therefore, my only option to bring some variety and interest to my diet would be to travel to some distant place, where I could "locavorate" on something new and different for any given time of year. I mean, c'mon, which is more expensive, bringing a shipful of Chilean apples to my area in the winter, or a trip for myself to Chile in the winter to sample the local apples?

Mountain Maven said...

Blogger Carol said...
Name some examples.
8/27/13, 4:02 PM

You must live in red state.
We had dinner with friends at a local restaurant where the waiter bragged about their local vegetables. Since it snows 6 months a year here the cost and carbon footprint must be exorbitant. Then our friends said they are localvores and went on to talk about buying produce at Whole Paycheck which is an hour away. And then they talked at length about their planned trip to the Galapaglos. THEN the drove us home in their new SUV. Half my family believes and lives like this.

John Constantius said...

A philosophy of travel: some people like it (like me) and some people don't (like, AFAICT Althouse and from this thread, Farmer). There's nothing funnier -- and after a while, nothing more obnoxious -- than people who don't like travel trying to convince people who do that they are *wrong*. Or vice versa.

Henry said...

I don't mind travel. I hate planning for travel. And I don't mind not travelling. So travelling doesnt' happen much.

It was interesting to see how the incognito comments adhered into distinct groups. At 3:55 Althouse opened the sluice. There were those, like Michelle Dulak Thomson and Steve B. (and myself) who offered qualified defense for locavorism. There were those who took the moral hypocrisy bait and worried themselves upon the hook. But my favorite comments were those that overturned the premise, with MayBee's 2:23 the perfect example:

Stick to your own area like a humpback whale or a monarch butterfly? Like those kinds of animals?

Kirk Parker said...

Farmer,

"There seems to be less legroom every time I step on a plane."

Maybe you should lay off the HGH for a while...


tradguy,

"That would be sad for Mid-westerners limiting them to a Corn and Pork [and Beef] diet with milk and beer to drink and a side of cheese."

Well, isn't that what they end up eating anyway???

cubanbob said...

In a locavore world what would pass for sushi in most of the country? I'm quite happy that I am able to buy fresh produce all year round. I'm also quite happy that I can afford the luxury of eating locally grown produce in season but not everyone is that fortunate. Therefore I'm glad that Walmart can offer imported produce when it's out of season here so others can enjoy produce that is 100% as healthy as locally grown farmer's market produce even if its only 80 to 90% as tasty as the locally grown in season albeit a lot cheaper. Why do the Eco-Puritans hate the poor?

Trashhauler said...

I told my locavore-vegan son and his wife that I refused to have my menu become a moral dilemma. Am I a bad parent?

Baronger said...

Well they do for some people.

Remember the great outcry about cars is not that they consume gas. The root of it all is that it allows everyone the ability to travel with ease.

Intrepid Seeker said...

What on earth does eating as a locavore have to do with travel, global warming, or anything else mentioned here? I eat as a locavore for one reason--if I don't know my farmers or grow food myself, there is no way to know for certain if the food is healthy to eat. It only has to do with health. Since I started eating local food, my health has improved. If wanting to be healthy is "elitist", so be it. I don't care.

tim in vermont said...

I think maybe the question should be "If those who advocate for locavorism on grounds of mitigating climate change were truly consistent, they would also advocate against exotic travel."

I really enjoy hearing the arguments of those who refuse to consider giving up on exotic travel on the grounds that they have "built up credits" based on their use of bicycles, locovorism, etc, as if that somehow offsets the energy required to accelerate them and their share of the aircraft to 500 mph or so, lift them 7 miles into the troposphere, and overcome the wind resistance at such speeds( remember that wind resistance follows the cube of the velocity making it huge even for a very aerodynamically sleek aircraft) for many hours, directly injecting heavier than air CO2 into the upper atmosphere and creating contrails, clouds that would not otherwise exist... Sure, it all makes sense. But watching those people writhe and whine about how they are not hypocrites is a shadenfreudistic pleasure of mine. Unfortunately, this post was unsuccessful in producing any such dudgeon.

jr565 said...

Since any big city has restaurants from practically every country, and a whole foods that has produce and goods that can be bought locally which contain pretty much any food you can think of, how is locavorism anything other than going to the local supermarket or restaurant.
What a moral stand. You bought Japanese food at the Japanese restaurant down the block and then got a salad at whole foods. With gestures like that global warming will be solved in no time.

SGT Ted said...

Just like most other 'Progressive" notions and ideas, the bottom line impulse of the locavore movement is to tell other people how to live and what to eat.

Rusty said...

John Constantius said...
A philosophy of travel: some people like it (like me) and some people don't (like, AFAICT Althouse and from this thread, Farmer). There's nothing funnier -- and after a while, nothing more obnoxious -- than people who don't like travel trying to convince people who do that they are *wrong*. Or vice versa.

Don't get me wrong. I love to travel. Just not with anybody I know.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Enh, jr565, you don't get the concept. The idea is not to eat anything not grown nearby; to eat foods in season (which means no cheating by getting stuff from the Southern Hemisphere that wouldn't be around in our winter up here, &c.)

I am not really down with the idea. "What do we want? -- Asparagus! When do we want it? -- Now!" But the foodies who are keen on seasonal vegetables have a point.

prairie wind said...

The foodies who are keen on seasonal produce would eliminate markets for those who need to sell their produce. When I buy a watermelon in January, I know that somewhere in the world, a farmer sold something that he wouldn't be able to sell enough of...if he were limited to local markets.

...no matter HOW charming farmers' markets are.

nichole said...

Why don't they? Some do.