Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Local 100

Victory gardens. A White House farmer . The Slow Food movement. Eating local and organic. One hundred miles from where you live. The idea of keeping life local intrigues me. Not only as it regards food and eating but for living life in general. If we all lived our lives locally how different would they be? Quite different in my view. More intimate. Possibly more rewarding. None of these ideas are necessarily new. American chefs have been pushing ‘local’ for years. And I have no political agenda in writing this blog. Yes, living locally will help the carbon footprint but I am not advocating total abstinence from living life – one should still travel to overseas locations, take trips by car and airplane, do the things that make life pleasurable. I just wonder -- if our lives were consciously more intimate might they be more fulfilling?

As I mention in my blog description, my great-grandmother lived her life locally but it was by dint of circumstance not of choice. She and my great-grandfather were not rich people yet they lived an abundant life. Somehow they didn’t need a lot to survive. My great-grandmother’s backyard garden fed a family of four plus any and all visiting relatives for many years. My great-grandfather fished local waters, hunted with my great-uncle in local mountains, and grew fruits and vegetables in the garden. I learned very valuable lessons from them about living a simple yet satisfying life.

The idea for this blog actually came to me through a friend, Martine Rothstein, who makes every attempt to live her life locally. Her company, Burden Free Foods , uses only local ingredients in all its products. On a recent visit we were discussing buying and cooking with local ingredients only. Through her work with her company she has sourced many local New Jersey farmers and purveyors for both her business and her family. She mentioned trying to keep it all within a 100-mile radius. It made a lot of sense to me. I began to think about it as a way of life.

I live in the Atwater Village neighborhood of Los Angeles -- a small 3-block ‘village’ with restaurants, cafes, hair salons, a taco stand, yoga and dance studios, and various shops. On one end is a Starbucks, and in the middle is Kaldi Coffee & Tea, a small independent coffee house that roasts its own coffee beans. I am currently re-training myself not to automatically go to Starbucks (not a big fan anyway) but to go to Kaldi instead – a local business that needs my support. My partner, Robert, and I often walk from my condo to eat at one of the restaurants; we try to get to the weekly farmers market; and I recently started getting a haircut at Salon Mix, a local Atwater hair salon. All efforts to localize my life.

It is 100 Miles as a concept that I will explore in this blog. As well as a place where I will put down on paper memories of my experiences working in the food industry, of other foodies, chefs and friends I have met along the way. Old and new discoveries made. Places visited and recipes prepared. Amazing meals I have had. All with the idea that living closer to home as much as possible is ultimately better for the spirit.

One hundred miles from home.

Charles G. Thompson
February 3, 2009

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  1. Dear 100Miles, I couldnt help but remember so many things growing up while reading your blog. It is something so close to home and the heart. My father had grown up in Greece and always used to talk about how the land looked before it became so cosmopolitan. Some parts still do look as the did, covered with olive trees, tomatoes growing in the back yard, and grape vines covering all the balconies of his home. I sometimes wonder if this is the reason why he is still so healthy. I felt like I had entered into my fathers garden. It was a wonderful feeling of comfort and confidence with the information you provide. I shall be sure to return for another treate of your wisdom. Thank you for sharing.
    Cheers PT
    You can visit me at http://ptsaldari.posterous.com

  2. Thank you, Gabriella for your lovely comment. I really appreciate it. It does seem in many ways that we have lost a lot of what our parents and grandparents might have had. It sounds like your father lived that way. How nice that you have those memories.