What if Local Food Ain't All That?

lamb1Super-good post the other day from Zachary Cohen on his Farm to Table blog entitled What all of us in the food movement sometimes think. It's especially pertinent to me right now because more than 30 people will be at tonight's Simple, Good, and Tasty dinner at The Craftsman in Minneapolis. So now that I've told everyone how great local food is, how compelling the chef is, and how good it will feel to eat a meal that hasn't been flown in, the questions remains: what if local food ain't all that? Here's an excerpt from the Farm to Table blog:

Many people appear to be skeptical about local, sustainable foods because they believe–for whatever reason–that these foods won’t be nearly as tasty as commercially-produced foods they are used to.

For those of us on the front lines trying to increase awareness and availability of real food, this is just one more barrier in our pathway. Others, of course, are  the cost issue, the availability issue and the elitist issue to name a few. But, of all of these, the taste issue is perhaps the most important. No matter how hard we work to open farmers markets, get urbanites visiting local farms, to acclimatize people to spending more of their disposable income on food and to support restaurants who embrace local, seasonal foods, if, at the end of the day, the food doesn’t taste good, we are ultimately doomed to failure.

I agree completely, and the way that we've been trained to think about food doesn't help the cause. For many eaters, the food experience is all about consistency and predictability. (If it wasn't, how could TGIFriday's, Applebees, Pizza Hut, and a million others survive?) For others, the uniqueness of each tomato is part of its beauty, and part of the joy of eating. "Sure, some are less tasty than others," we say, "just as it should be! Hallelujah!" Confession: I've been foodthinking about tomorrow night's food for several days now - the lamb, the corn, and the milk that will be turned into salted caramel ice cream. It's almost on its way. In other words, I've been enjoying tonight's dinner for days already. But what if it ain't all that?

I'm not too worried, frankly. I've eaten at The Craftsman several times, and each experience has been terrific. The food's consistently great, and the atmosphere is too. I might even taste the local-ness of a few fresh foods. Best of all, I'll be eating with friends. Along those lines, I found a great quote by Laurie Colwin of "Home Cooking":

“One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends.”

I cannot wait to see you tonight, friends.