Locavore: A Word to Live By

| 12/18/2008 9:35:26 AM

Trendy’s not usually my thing. For more than 30 years, I’ve worn the same outfit of thrift store overalls colored with Rit Dye. My hairstyle has been pretty much the same since eighth grade; when it gets so long it hangs in the toilet, I whack off a few inches. So to find myself part of the hottest new food trend is unsettling. I’m a locavore, the New Oxford American Dictionary’s 2007 word of the year. Furthermore, since I was chomping local long before it was cool, you might say I’m a trendsetter. This is heady stuff for a person who has marched out of step and in the wrong direction most of her life.

For example, there was a year in the ’80s when we lived on a tiny hammock in the Everglades. Hunters stopped by our primitive camp site where we weighed carcasses, pulled jawbones from deer and measured antlers for wildlife biologists. The nearest supermarkets were a world away on the outskirts of Miami, but that doesn’t mean we went hungry. We feasted on local tomatoes, green beans, avocados, citrus fruit, game and fish.

The fish were hand-sized sun perch caught by our son Brint. Several times a week we’d roast a batch of them in a long-handled basket over the campfire. No plates required, we just nibbled them off the tiny skeletons. One night we were late starting supper and had to roast them after dark. Not only did they get too brown — charcoal comes to mind — but by the time we finished eating we were smeared with essence of fish from slapping at mosquitoes with our greasy hands. It seemed like a good night for a bath.

Most evenings we washed quickly at the artesian well that bubbled up in our yard. To take a real bath with hot water involved hauling a battery to the park ranger’s cabin for charging. While waiting for the battery, we carried buckets of water from the well to a propane water heater. By the time the 12-volt pump chugged the heated water to our bath tub, we were giddy with anticipation.

Bath night also meant we could use the freshly charged battery to watch our little black and white 12-volt television. By 10 o’clock all three of us were scrubbed, dressed in clean t-shirts and perched on the end of the fold-out bed, waiting to connect with the outside world. The screen flickered on, and the first thing we saw was a pitch for paint-on goo that would make microwaved meat turn brown.

There was total silence as we looked at each other, puzzled at first, then gradually realizing we were not watching a comedy sketch but a real commercial. We had tapped into a parallel universe at just the right moment to make an uproarious memory. The story would be told at family gatherings for the rest of our lives.

12/23/2008 7:53:29 AM

Wow Gwen ... there is a lot of truthiness to your comments (2005 word of the year). Thanks for brightening our day with your comments and pointing us to other resources of interest.

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