"No European who has tasted Savage Life can afterwards bear to live in our societies." — Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Place and Food : Eating Local

I'm currently living in the Denver, Colorado, area. There are many farms, free-range organic butchers, and wild animals around here. One can eat locally-grown or harvested food here pretty easily. I know; I do it.

I've thought about moving to Alaska. Fewer farms (but more than you may think!), but plenty of paleo food: wild meats, fish, berries, and herbs. A very large percentage of Alaskans live a subsistence lifestyle, living off the land. Some of them live in very remote areas, but many live in cities or towns. The land and its resources allow such a lifestyle.

I lived in Tucson, Arizona. In southern Arizona, there are many wild resources, but they are mostly plants and fruits. There are some animals around, including some large game, but it is a bit harder to find than in some other places in the continental U.S. Most of the Native American tribes in the area survived by combining wild foods with farmed foods such as corn.

Not only are "raw resources" part of the equation, but also the societal acceptance (or lack thereof) of such a lifestyle. In Alaska, for example, a subsistence lifestyle is considered pretty normal. Even city-dwellers eat wild meats and berries, even if only occasionally. Yet, in northern Colorado, the idea that we are interested in eating items that don't come wrapped in plastic from Whild Foads is weird; many people think we're nuts. They don't freak out too badly when we say we eat locally-grown, free-range, grass-fed meat, because that's pretty trendy and "eco"; when we mention that the meat is buffalo, we get funny looks. In Tucson, we did some dumpster diving and ate large amounts of fresh, clean produce that we found; most people there thought we were completely insane except for the other divers.

Does the area in which you live provide enough natural resources to sustain a healthy, varied diet? And, if so, does your surrounding society support such a choice?