Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Where does your food come from?

An article about seasonal eating in today's Washington Post reminded me how annoyed I was a few weeks ago at the National Air and Space Museum. In "I'll Miss My CSA, but It's Time to Go," Stephanie Witt Sedgwick reflects on her season of buy-in to Potomac Vegetable Farms' community-supported agriculture program (CSA). She concludes that it was a great experience that kept her largely out of the supermarket for months, but now she's ready to move her seasonal produce-buying over to farmers markets. PVF owner Hana Newcomb says she welcomes this kind of turnover.

Despite the interest among green types and even others to become locavores, there's still a strong sense of entitlement out there that we Americans here in the 21st century can eat whatever we damn well please.

Case in point: The America by Air exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall. We had just finished the Fannie Mae Help the Homeless Walkathon and made a stop in the museum to warm up before walking back to the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station. I was struck by the irony of coming in from an event about people who don't have a place to live to read a placard bragging about how, thanks to aviation, we're no longer limited to eating what's local or in season. Not that I never eat an apple in the early spring or an orange in the middle of summer, nor do I shop only at the farmers market. (Like Sedgwick, I enjoyed my summer and fall CSA through PVF last year but didn't return, mostly due to the inconvenience of having to go out to get the bag during my son's nap.) I do try to look at labels when I shop in the grocery store, though, and I put some thought into what I eat when.

I don't expect Air & Space not to tell the story of aviation, but I do think the museum could just think about the impression it leaves on a kid to gloat about being able to get whatever, whenever.

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