Wednesday, May 13, 2009

News Feed: "Local" goes big and Babycakes is out!

Lots of good news circulating today. A few quick updates on the news feeder:

* Check out Kim Severson's thought-provoking article "When 'Local' Makes It Big" highlighting the new twist on the local food movement -- local food goes mass food manufacturers. Sounds slightly contradictory. Severson writes of large scale food companies like Frito-Lay and Hunt's making the most of the 'local' movement, emphasizing the geographic origin of their food products. It sounds quite similar to the blow-up of organic foods a few years. Do Lays potato chips made with 'locally grown' potatoes really count as local food (see photo on the upper left courtesy of the NY Times)?
Where does health and nutrition factor into all of this...not to mention the concept of getting to know your local farmers and sourcing out seasonal, more nutrient-rich food when possible.
No surprise, Michael Pollan is quoted in the article and gives his two, much-appreciated, cents: "The ingenuity of the food manufacturers and marketers never ceases to amaze me. They can turn any critique into a new way to sell food. You’ve got to hand it to them.”
Jessica Prentice, an SF food writer who termed 'locavore' reminds us that "The local foods movement is about an ethic of food that values reviving small scale, ecological, place-based, and relationship-based food systems. Large corporations peddling junk food are the exact opposite of what this is about.”
Whether you agree with her or not, I absolutely think it's a valid statement and something we should muse over before we're inundated by a whole lot of food marketing, which is what all of this appears to be.
For me, local food is all about connecting yourself back to the food at its most simple, flavorful and wholesome origin...and understanding what fresh, real, locally-grown food does for us and our communities. There's a relationship there that develops when you breakdown the process of getting food truly from the farm to your table. And yes, of course not everyone is able to have access to farmers or farmers markets within 100 miles of where they live. But, do food manufacturers really have our best interest at heart? They're making efforts, but at the end of the day, who wins out? Empty-calorie 'local' potato chips from a bag or iron, potassium and fiber-rich real potatoes from your local greenmarket? You tell me. If nothing else, I think it's progress that we're bringing the ideal of non-processed, sustainable food to the table. Let's keep the discussion going.

*Also of major note today (or officially last week)...Erin McKenna, who founded the infamous gluten-free bakery, Babycakes in NYC and now also in LA, has released her first gluten-free, vegan cookbook - check it out here on Amazon. Her stuff's good people, REALLY good! And check out her killer commercial announcing the launch of the book - it totally ROCKS! Congrats Erin!

1 comment:

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