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??

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§ 3 Responses to Walking Down Park

  • Larry King says:

    Sorry to be so slow to get to the wonderful work you are doing…a long time ago Jim and I mainly went to French restaurants in NYC or places that had good jazz as we could get good food in NJ..35miles from the GWashington bridge was far enough to get us to country and farm land…do not know how much of it is left at the momment but Lake Valhalla was a private lake community and a couple of miles down the road once you went down the hill to 202 we came to long time family peach orchards and roadside stands where we could purchase great food and the peaches were the best we had ever seen. Think you are doing a great job and will write more later. If I were still in Florida managing my garden club positions and Area Beautification Council of Upper Pinellas I could expose them to your news. The ABC has folded since I left Fl. and I hate it as I worked hard to keep it alive and fun – had 12 good garden clubs in it originally but in some areas the real garden clubs are becoming a thing of the past bowing to country club society and not the good old days when we had floral design demonstrations and flower shows etc. plus I did fashion shows and lots of day trips….must dash but I have a new land line phone no.now as I had one too many foreign type calls and Walmart called probably trying to follow up on a bad credit person and that woman had my no. on her paper work….he suggested I get rid of the no. right away so I did….623-322-9313 and cell is still the same my Fl. no 7277-543-4375…..my love to you both and sorry I could not have been in Pitts. but I am really looking forward to family reunion in VT……would be fun for you….a different part of the world as my family went west to Iowa in the 1800’s….Love, Larry

  • Kelly says:

    You west coast fresh foodie snob! LOL

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