Yesterday, I ate a tomato. And today I ate a radish. While I was luxuriating in the taste, it dawned on me that for the majority of the local population, this would not necessarily be a treat; that most people would not have gone many months without those foods. Most people use stores. And stores facilitate the access of foods from all over the world, regardless of the season.
I have to admit that eating local brings with it the excitement of renewed tastes as we immerse ourselves into the summer. It is great to have fresh haskaps again. And salad greens. And the steamed turnip tops are to die for. And each day unleashes a fresh supply of abundance and variety. It feels magical and decadent after a winter of waiting for the onions to run out.
Strange, but I’m starting to feel that my appreciation for food might suffer when we return to the non-local diet. Maybe it will all seem too easy, too undeserving. Will I really savor the taste and value the opportunity to eat fresh strawberries in February? Coconuts and pineapples in Dawson? Or will the process of shopping and eating become mechanized, without much deliberation or thought? Will thoughts of local opportunity, unnecessary transportation, food storage and seasonal limitations all be forgotten?
I did not enjoy using my living space as a storage silo, so that I won’t miss. But maybe I will miss a part of what comes with living with your food supply: the awareness of knowing exactly what you must make do with, the appreciation of limitations, the necessity to find creativity within those limitations. Everyone who enjoys camping and backpacking is essentially enjoying exactly that: a time when you must persevere with what you have, a time of restraint, and a time of discipline.
The coffers have food aplenty with only three weeks to go on “the Diet.” And with the forest and gardens producing, there is no anxiety about scurvy or beri-beri. We will make it. I expect there will be a shock effect from that cold beer on a hot afternoon, or with the dough that has yeast added to it, or with that salt brine lathered on top of a roast. It will seem weird to eat in public or go to a restaurant. But this will pass. I remember that when we returned from our winter in the bush there was a similar transient sense of disbelief and undeserving, when a simple twist of the tap produced hot running water.
I am looking forward to the ease of eating and the convenience of unrestricted access. I am ready to not talk about food, or to think about it. I’m really looking forward to a glass of wine and a banana, for some reason. It feels like I have no memory of ever having experienced the taste of an orange. So, there is always room for reflection, but for now, it’s almost time to bring out the coffee!