Manolo's Food Blog Manolo Loves the Food!

July 27, 2007

Eat Locally, Read Locally

Filed under: Celebrity,Japanese Food,Mr. Henry — Mr. Henry @ 6:38 am

Reports of the budding locavore movement got Mr. Henry thinking. What if ALL forms of sustenance were to become local? What if right-thinking persons such as Mr. Henry were forced by farsighted, busybody children not only to favor local growers but to go local in every other pursuit?


Mind you, Mr. Henry is all for reducing his carbon footprint, as well as for reducing his monthly expenditures and daily caloric intake. He is strictly conservative in these important domains. However, why should he exclude all foods and libations apart from sustainable ones grown within a 150-mile radius of New York City?

This sort of artificial food radius is all perfectly fine if you find yourself residing in central California surrounded by the premier fruit and vegetable fields in America. But what about the rest of us? What if Mr. Henry were forced to drink New York wine and (shudder) bourbon whiskey? (Yes, sour mash like Maker’s Mark will do if caught in a Montana rainstorm, but honestly, can you fathom an American gin?)

This month Mr. Henry has elected to pursue twin ideals: he will be not only a locavore but also a localector. He will read exclusively novels written about New York.

Cathleen Schine’s new novel The New Yorkers is an irresistible tossed salad of quirky, crunchy, local characters. Deliciously unexpected characterizations pop up mid-sentence the way an heirloom tomato surprises you with flavors of mint, citrus or papaya. Try some today.


  1. I lived in central CA for a good portion of my life, and I must admit I’ve never heard of such nonsense. Granted, the vast majority of my food comes from within the state or the waters that I have the privilege of seeing as I make my daily commute, but impose an arbitrary limit of 100 or 150 miles? Ridiculous. Even in CA, that would be a limit depriving many people of food that is generally considered to be locally grown.

    Comment by Kat — July 27, 2007 @ 11:35 pm

  2. I don’t think the “100 mile” limit is meant to be imposed like law. It’s simply to get you to focus on the food that’s produced locally by local farmers who are very likely small independent farmers (or, part of a food growing co-op, or organic or drug free food producers). I’ve seen people talk about “adopting” this food lifestyle and then crying about how you can’t buy Parmigiano reggiano cheese because it comes from Parma Italy, which is thousands of miles away from Canada, where I live. They are missing the point, and it’s an important one.

    I live in one of the best areas of arable land in the world, and we have farmers producing all kinds fruits and vegetables, and all manner of meats and dairy and local specialty foods wherever you turn–yet, every summer, when the fields are laden with this produce and local farmers are trying as hard as possible to sell as much as they can so they can keep farming, our supermarkets are stuffed to the rafters with fruit, vegetables, and meats from anywhere else (usually California or South America)–often exactly the same produce that local farmers are producing literally across the street from their aisles. The “100 mile” rule is to get consumers to think about buying the fresh, ripe, well prepared foods from the people they live near (because shaming the supermarket conglomerates to sell local foods just hasn’t worked in Canada). Not only do you keep your local economy alive, the stuff just tastes so much better and is so much better for you. And you can find out exactly what your neighbour is doing when the food’s produced. Try doing that with some Monsanto-run agricorp in the US whose contracts for sales with the megalomart in your town has to honour well into the next millennium.

    Then, buy the parmiggiano reggiano from Parma because even though it comes from half a world away, it’s still made a lot like it was 800 years ago. To make the local stuff taste great!

    Comment by chachaheels — July 28, 2007 @ 6:28 am

  3. That is a really interesting concept but I can definitely see how it could be a problem.

    My main points would be:

    imposing any sort of radius in this case would have both positive and negative impacts. It would be good for farmers but bad for consumers because it limits competition which keeps prices low—as we know locally grown is often more expensive. Though not always, because I get Ranier Cherries at the farmers market for $4/lb rather than $6.5/lb at Safeway or Fred Meyer. Unfortunately, for farmers, competition isn’t good because their product is subject to nature—growing season, viability…etc.

    “free” trade would be out the window if the government just decided you could only buy food within a given area. Also, why is it that people/government are always trying to impose these sorts of things on everyone anyway? You should have the choice to buy whatever you want wherever it is offered, and likewise, companies should be able to sell whatever they want wherever they can. Remember, even the produce sold at Safeway is grown on a farm…by farmers.

    Comment by la petite chou chou — July 29, 2007 @ 9:55 pm

  4. chachaheels:

    The problem with the “100-mile rule” is that it has very quickly become…a rule. And it’s crazy. Even if you live in California, wouldn’t you like to eat baked potatoes (need colder climates), bananas (need warmer climates), pineapples and mangoes (don’t grow in California, either). People have beeen violating the 100-mile rule since ancient times, when the Greeks exported olive oil, the Egyptians exported grain, the Mideast exported dried fruit, and all spices came by sea from India and its environs (they still do, for the most part). What if you lived in Nome, Alasaka–are you supposed to live on walrus blubber?

    Why not just encourage people to patronize local farmers and farmers’ markets, on the argument that the produce just tastes better, instead of setting up a silly 100-mile rule that even the most self-righteous foodies violate (else no coffee or tea)?

    Comment by Charlotte Allen — July 30, 2007 @ 2:47 pm

  5. Just because it is titled food blog doesn’t mean it has to be laden with recipes. Food is often the trigger for other topics.

    Comment by la petite chou chou — July 30, 2007 @ 4:36 pm

  6. in the bay area, we are prone to go overboard at times about food.. and this is a prime example.

    Comment by lorraine — July 31, 2007 @ 10:12 am

  7. What a fun perspective! While I agree that frequenting local farmers and producers is preferable, the tone of many bloggers is just not real. We live in a global economy, and let’s face it, we are not going back to the days when people shopped everyday for the fresh food they would put on their table that evening. And frankly many people couldn’t if they wanted to!

    Comment by Deborah Dowd — August 2, 2007 @ 4:54 am

  8. I think a couple folk here are losing sight of the fact this is a purely voluntary movement and not going to be regulated by any government. Nobody has ever suggested it be a government run program, and that’s in part because while it’s good for individual carbon footprints, it’s bad for any national economy.

    Frequenting local farmers and local producers is great when you can do it…but they can pry my coffee beans from my cold, dead fingers.

    Still, the movement has some good basic ideas that we can all benefit from as long as we don’t go overboard or become paranoid.

    (stashes coffee beans and chocolate in case of food terrorist raids)

    Comment by Twistie — August 2, 2007 @ 5:18 pm

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