It is late. Or rather, I am late. My seedlings are still seeds because I've been too busy to get them started. I started them tonight but I'm very late--our last frost date is just two weeks away. Over the past week as each daylight-lengthening day passed I asked the question, "will we have food to eat?" It is a privileged question that I get to ask as I fly from one place to another, drive from meeting to meeting, and otherwise neglect the tasks that will put food on our table. It is a question I asked myself even as I raced through the grocery store to pick up eggs and flour. I know it is not a privileged question for many--it is a real, life-threatening concern.
I know the answer for me--of course we will have food to eat. If, for whatever reason, our seeds don't take or are planted to late, I know I can go to the co-op or to the farmers' market or to the big supermarket to get food. I will not go hungry. But my choices will be limited. I will not be able easily buy the kind of healthy, organic, fresh food that I can pick from our garden. And after just one attempt at growing our own food I feel a passionate obligation to continue doing so. It is not convenient. It is not always easy--my back aches already from the hour or so spent preparing the soil today. But I can't imagine not doing it.
I am grateful to live in a country that provides an extensive "Plan B" (flawed though it may be) that includes farmers, grocery stores, and the means to distribute food so that I can eat.
Every now and again I wonder what would happen if Plan B were different. What if Plan B looked more like Plan A? Plan A being the situation where I try to grow some of my own food and rely on local farmers and other producers for much of the rest and on supermarkets for the luxury imports like spices, nuts and condiments?
The Eat Local Challenge begins in just a couple of days for those of us joining Locavores for the commitment to eating within our foodshed for the month of May. Though I'm often concerned about eating locally and sustainably I'll really be focused on these issues for the whole month. I'm defining local as food grown within 100 miles of Syracuse for most foods, and within New York State or near our borders for the rest. I'll post more about what I'll exempt from this challenge and just how much of a commitment I'll make--eating one local meal a day or one a week, for instance.
I hope you'll join me. You can read about my attempts at last year's Eat Local Challenge by clicking the Eat Local Challenge link to the right. For ten great reasons to eat local, click here. You can also get inspiration from a host of other food bloggers (me included) and committed folks who are writing for a new blog that will focus on eating locally all year long. It will launch any day now.
So yes, we will have food to eat. The next question is, from where will it come?