Europe’s Take on American Locavores

Since starting The 250 last year I’ve done four interviews for European TV and publications, and the process has made me think hard about why my locavore lifestyle is relevant, whether it makes a difference, whether or not it can inspire or motivate others. I did the most recent one yesterday for the french incarnation of ARTE TV. They asked some excellent questions, but during the entire interview I kept feeling like there was something we weren’t quite addressing. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until after the interview that I figured out what it was.

All four European media interviews I’ve done have started out with my interviewer saying that Europeans are fascinated by the burgeoning local food movement in America because there is no European equivalent. Having been to Europe many times, I found myself mentally protesting because my experience was that there is a rich local food culture in Europe: so many farmers’ markets in every city and village, such a rich tradition of shopping for the best local ingredients from local vendors.

Yesterday, after the TV cameraman left, I thought, “Maybe they don’t get the enthusiasm and expansion we have here in regards to local foods because they never really needed it there.” They’ve never not had access to local foods, even with the encroachment of Migros super-supermarkets and Mickey D’s. Totally different from, for example, when I first moved to NYC as a teenager. I doubt if I could have found out where that iceberg lettuce in my supermarket came from even if I’d wanted to. Eating locally grown foods wouldn’t even have been a possibility then. But since I’ve been in NYC, the Greenmarkets have gone from a few stalls at Union Square once a week to four days a week round the block at that site and dozens more throughout the city. In contrast, the markets in Paris were there all along– perhaps taken for granted, perhaps not, but there.

After the interviewer left yesterday, another thing I thought of belatedly was that I’d had to correct him several times about the distinction between “locavore” and the local food movement. He spoke of them as if they were the same thing. But a locavore is someone who sets a strict radius from within which they intend to source their food, as I did with my 250-Mile Diet, whereas the local food movement includes people not measuring specific miles-to-plate but nonetheless very aware of the environmental issues of food miles, and getting as much of their food as they can from local sources.

One of the European interviewers I met with (from Germany), when I asked why she thought her audience would care about this subject, said that it gave them hope to see at least some Americans rejecting fast food and regaining common sense, and also that it was very cute how we took it to such extremes.

Common sense, indeed. Cute? That wasn’t quite what I was going for, but if you say so…

On a different note, for those of you who couldn’t watch my two segments on the Martha Stewart Show this past Monday, it is online now. Click here

THEN (if you don’t want to watch the whole show)

On the right side (beneath the pictures and the “1 – 4 of 8 videos” message), click “Next”, then click on
“Preserving Herbs” and/or “Indoor Herb Plants”. Those are the two segments I shot.

Botany, Ballet, & Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes by Leda Meredith

Not sure what this is about? Read Getting Ready for the 250-Mile Diet and The Rules


Grounded in Community

It’s been driving me nuts that peak harvest season was here and I was missing it. Readers of this blog know that I’ve been sidelined with a knee injury+surgery since late August. Last Saturday I was able to hobble to a farmers’ market for the first time since the injury.

I’ve had my CSA share, delivered weekly by a friend, but I missed the festive, county fair atmosphere of the markets and the recipe-exchange chats on site with fellow CSA members.

What I’ve been missing makes me realize how big a part of what I love about a local foods diet is that it is grounded in community. I love it when farmers and their assistants I’ve come to know step out of their stalls at the farmers’ market to give me a hug. I loved saying “hi” to my CSA farmer, Ted Blomgren of Windflower Farm, when his truck pulled up at the Park Slope CSA site today. For the past two months, I’ve been eating local foods, but they were delivered without that direct connection to their source.

On a slightly different note, Tuesday was an exciting day for me. I shot two segments for The Martha Stewart Show and then went directly to my local polling place to vote. There was a line at my polling place–I’ve never had to wait in line to vote before. Well, you know the rest because it’s history.

If you’d like to see the segments I did for Martha (one on ways to preserve herbs for the winter–useful even if you’re just trying to figure out what to do with the rest of that bunch of basil you bought. The other segment is on indoor herb gardening, also useful for a locavore), they air this coming Monday, Nov. 10th (check your local listings for time and channel).

I’ll get to go to the farmers’ market again this weekend. Yay!! Meanwhile, the CSA root vegetables are crowding my crisper drawers. Got to use them up, so tonight I’m working on some soup.


Not sure what this is about? Read Getting Ready for the 250-Mile Diet and The Rules

Botany, Ballet, & Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes by Leda Meredith