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(post, Judith Klinger)
Eating Local and the Mono-Diet I’ve identified a problem with the eating local and in-season trend, and I’m calling it the Mono-Diet Phenomena (MDP). It started to dawn on me in the spring when we ate artichokes every single day. At some point, peaches dominated our food intake, later to be replaced by tomatoes, and currently we are eating figs. I’m guessing by the end of next spring, when we’ve gone through a full cycle, we will have eaten what could be called the Annually Balanced Diet (ABD). As an equation it looks like this MDP x WL = ABD. WL = Whole Lotta We are currently moving into bitter green season, so all leafy greens are replaced by spiky fibrous greens. As this is the ‘natural’ flow of growth in the gardens, abundance of one food, replaced by another, could this mean that eating something out of season is inherently bad for us? Or, conversely, based on the theory of contagious happiness, will eating a strawberry in February cause great joy to erupt in everyone around us and make it worth whatever it took to get that strawberry to the table? I’m certain I could build a case for eating local based on the ABD theory, and it would have as much validity as some of the other theories on ‘proper’ eating. There will always be fringe groups, like the family that went without toilet paper for a year so they wouldn’t cause any ecological harm. I couldn’t bring myself to read about what hygiene option they felt was politically correct, and now I’m sorry, because like a good horror film, my imagination has run riot. But surely, I could start a fringe movement based on the absolute danger of eating foods out of season. It could start a whole new industry, the Mono-Cookbooks: 2500 Ways to Eat a Tomato, Peaches Every Day for 60 Days, or How to Disguise Zucchini. Apparently if we can get enough people to follow us on Twitter, then it would be a cinch to pitch the Mono-Diet. A continuous stream of Tweets: “Eat figs. Melon season is over, do not risk your health!” “Grapes are ripe.” “Belly hurts, grapes not as ripe as I thought.” I bet the guy who invented granola made a fortune, so why can’t we invent a new industry? We would be creating jobs and doing our patriotic duty. Maybe it’s the book I’ve been reading, “Eating Right in the Renaissance” by Ken Albala that has me thinking about food trends and how nothing has changed. People in the Renaissance were just as obsessed with eating ‘properly’ as people in 2009. Some of the ideas that we might scoff at, like cucumbers can make us lazy, cabbage has the ability to prevent drunkenness, or the documented cases of people who were able to survive for years solely on the nutrients found in air, might sound like nonsense now, but who are we to judge what is healthy or not? Remember Woody Allen’s discovery of the benefits of chocolate in Sleeper? But what about the health claims that we are bombarded with now? Our inboxes were full of dire warnings that Sheryl Crow claims she got breast cancer from drinking bottled water left in her car. (This is an urban legend. She admits to drinking bottled water in her car, but does not make a direct claim that the water caused her breast cancer.) Every since that email showed up, I have a vision of Sheryl Crow, riding around in a huge SUV full of water bottles, swigging away. And while we are worrying about water, Italians are convinced that drinking cold water on a hot day is very, very bad and could send you to the hospital. Every summer there are newspaper articles warning about the dangers of cold drinks. Which could partly explain why the barista will issue only 3 small ice cubes per drink, no matter how hard you beg for more ice. They are just looking out for clueless foreigners. Why am I worried about having a factual basis for the benefits of the mono-diet? If President Obama can be called a Nazi for telling kids to stay in school, then why should I let any lack of substance keeping me from sprouting the benefits of eating only one food at a time while its in season? This is a crazy world we live in, isn’t it? And while we are on the subject of mono-diets, anybody have any suggestions for the ton of fig confit that I now have on hand??