Walking Down Park
July 22, 2010 § 3 Comments
“did you ever maybe wonder
what grass was like before
they rolled it
into a ball and called
it central park…” –Nikki Giovanni, “Walking Down Park”
Being in NYC for a few days, I remember the things about this place that I love when I return for visits: the vibrancy, diversity, incredible food and unparalleled arts that constitute the everyday fabric of this city.
But as I awake each morning to views of a construction site and a stranger’s living room window (versus views of the kitchen garden, strawberry patch and apple tree); as my ears fill with the constant hum of window air conditioning units and honking horns (versus quiet punctuated by the trills of playing birds); and as I navigate through concrete canyons and people streams (versus padding around in the dirt), I realize that I miss my garden and the ease of eating locavore style in San Francisco.
This morning, for example, I’m eating a breakfast produced mostly in California, even though I’m sitting in NYC. When traveling, I still like to eat healthful breakfasts, so I usually hightail it to a grocery store to buy yogurt (ideally goat, not cow), fruit and granola (writing that, I realize how “left coast” I have become!). Yesterday I went to Whole Foods near the hotel to get provisions.
It was an odd experience. There was a giant chalkboard sign propped up in the gleaming produce section touting the benefits of eating locally and listing a litany of fruits and vegetables from the tri-state area. But, nearly none of it was to be found. I scoured the produce section three times, but all of the fruit I saw was from California — except for one pyramid of rock-hard peaches from New Jersey.
I know I’ve been spoiled by the relative accessibility of locally-grown produce in the Bay Area, sold at farmers markets by the people who grow it within driving distance of San Francisco. And I know that there is significantly more farmland in California than in the tri-state area: California alone has 25.3 acres of farmland whereas New York, New Jersey and Connecticut combined have only 8.3 acres of farmland. That’s 2/3 of an acre of farmland per person in California versus 1/4 of an acre of farmland per person in the tri-state area.
Even so, in this place that was preaching the virtues of eating locally, it was jarring to see Michael Pollan’s thesis in The Omnivore’s Dilemma playing out before my eyes. And it was annoying to realize that in this enormous grocery store, there weren’t any other options.
Where in the heck did all of that local produce go??