It is 4:15 p.m. on a Tuesday, and I'm sitting in a Starbucks' drive-through on the verge of delirium. "How did it get to this?" I berate myself as I order coffee and a chocolate croissant. "If this is what eating locally does to a person, count me out."
Photo by Steve Truesdell
I am just eight hours into Day One of my "week of eating local" challenge, yet here I am in the parking lot of a multinational corporation, slurping down mass-produced Indonesian coffee and gobbling a defrosted pastry baked in San Francisco. As I suck down my caffeine fix and begin to come to, I try to figure out where I went wrong.
My plan had been to spend May 6 through May 15 eating only foods sourced from within 150 miles of St. Louis. It was the locavore equivalent of a crash diet: no salt, no coffee, no olive oil, no Burgundy.
Admittedly, the parameters I'd chosen were somewhat arbitrary. "Think about what is important to you," I kept hearing when I asked the experts how to eat local. I never got a straight answer — because there isn't one. The group organizing St. Louis' Local Food Challenge — which kicks off for most participants on May 27 — set a 150-mile radius for its boundaries, but the rest was a bit nebulous. Did I have to stick to it every day, every meal? For how long? Are raw ingredients the most important metric, or can we include independent business such as craft breweries, which manufacture here even if they use hops from, say, Bavaria? As a prominent local chef would later tell me, "Once you start going down this path, you find yourself with questions, not answers."More »