The New Yorker‘s Adam Gopnik experiments, charmingly, with local eating in the five boroughs. His children star in the piece, which can be cloying, but they’re funny. Some of my compatriots at Grist complained bitterly about this piece, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Here’s the core of his argument:
There are powerful arguments against localism:
apart from the inevitable statistical tussles about exactly how much
fuel is used for how much food, the one word that never occurs in the
evocation of the lost world of small cities and nearby farms is
“famine.” Our peasant ancestors, who lived locally and ate seasonally
from the fruit of their own vines and the meat of their own lambs, were
hungry all the time. The localist vision of the tiny polis and its
surrounding gardens has historically led to bitter conflict, not
It is even perilously easy to construct a
Veblenian explanation for the vogue for localism. Where a century ago
all upwardly mobile people knew enough, and had enough resources, to
get their hands on the most unseasonable foods from the most distant
places, in order to distinguish themselves from the peasant past and
the laboring masses, their descendants now distinguish themselves by
hustling after a peasant diet.
This may be so; but the fact that one can explain everything in
social life as a series of status exchanges does not mean that social
life is only a series of status exchanges. It was cool to be a
liberal in 1963, but that did not make liberal attitudes to race
foolish. All human values get expressed as social rituals; we place
bets on which of the rituals are worth serving.
Plus, a wonderful picture of a beekeeper named David Graves, who keeps hives on rooftops around the city: