Why We're Losing the Locavore Argument Take 2: Guilt, Happiness and Grouchy Farmers

A reader chimes in, reflecting on her summer of "really trying" the locavore life. This is good bulletin board material for Farmers' Market managers around the country and also offers a reality check for a young and fragile food movement.

I really, really like the produce guy at my localsupermarket. He's genuinely thrilled with a good find (a crate of giant apples or particularly good squash), and he's quick with a paring knife to offer my preschooler a taste of whatever he's stacking. Some of the produce he stacks is locally grown; much of it is not.

In contrast, SOME of the local growers I've met over the summer have been less than pleasant for a variety of reasons: impatience with my questions (hello, you're sitting at booth at a market; would it be too much to ask that you talk about what you're selling to me, the only customer stopping by at the moment?), offering some customers better prices than others, just plain unfriendliness.

For me, then, the better, wiser, happier choice 9 times out of 10 will be to go to the store for produce I didn't grow myself. I tried, I really did, to like the farmers markets. And I do still pick my own berries, order my meat from a rancher, etc. But if vocal locavorists succeed in making people like me -- who are paying attention to where their consumption is sourced -- feel guilty, how are we ever going to find that sweet spot, that place of joy and plenty where efficiency and connection meet? That, I think, is the challenge: to articulate the value of connection -- between producers and consumers, between local and desirable (because darn it, there's just no substitute for parmesan cheese), between efficient and life-affirming -- without devaluing the struggle to shift that point of intersection more toward human connection.