Saturday, May 29, 2010

where'd you get that TACO?

Great article on the sourcing of a Mission Taco.


Dave Feucht said...

This brought up a lot of ideas about food production in general for me. Keep in mind, these are more just personal thoughts about our own eating habits, and maybe the eating and cooking habits of the average person at home, not necessarily specific to the situation of a taco cart or similar situation.

Firstly, and I think one big thing we've been thinking about lately, is eating seasonally. Because of the ability to ship things from Chile or wherever, we've gotten used to being able to eat strawberries or avocados or mangoes all year. It used to be the case that you only ate things when they were actually growing nearby, because you couldn't get them from across the country or world.

I think eating seasonally has a couple of advantages, when you can make it feasible - firstly, it makes eating locally more energy-efficient, because you aren't, as the article said, expending a ton of energy to grow pineapples (or whatever else) in New York in January. Secondly, you actually look forward to the foods that only grow during one season (I can't wait for my first local strawberries, for instance!). Thirdly, you get better food. Strawberries in January that were shipped from Chile are just not as good as ones that were picked a half-hour away yesterday, even if you can only get them for a couple of months.

We're certainly not perfect about this, but we're starting to gravitate this way more and more. Of course, we live in a pretty temperate climate where you can grow a number of veggies outside year round, with only minimal energy expended on keeping them warm/covered.

Another important factor in this is food preservation, which also used to be common. People would grow more tomatoes (and other veggies) than they needed in the summer, and then can them so they could eat them all winter. Sauerkraut was often made from the last cabbages of the fall, and when canned, would last months. Pickles were made to preserve some of those vegetables, but make something a bit different out of them, and again will keep for a very long time when refrigerated.

That being said, of course in the case of something like a taco cart, they need certain things in order to be able to stay open all year, and they need to be able to stay open all year to make a living, and in that case, yeah, it may be both cheaper and more energy-efficient to import cilantro from Mexico than grow it in Portland. It's not all black and white, and I'd certainly rather have a family making a living than be purist about eating only local food. Anyway, a lot of interesting things to think about... life is kind of complicated sometimes, isn't it? :)

Kristin Tieche said...

I think what gets me worked up is that our system doesn't offer us a real choice in the matter. We had the wool pulled over our eyes for many years.

I was eating tomatoes that tasted like watery meal until I went to France for the first time and realized what a tomato should taste like.

The argument: "It's more affordable" is a crock. I don't have to repeat the arguments that you already know.

The true cost of the food we eat is hidden from us. We are lucky to live in places like Portland and SF where we live in a bounty of good, local food.

I can't stomach eating meats that have been pumped with hormones. I won't do it. Cilantro from Mexico I can stomach more. But nothing beats the taste and the feel-good factor of food that was grown next door or in your backyard.


Dave Feucht said...

Yeah, I have a really hard time bringing myself to eat meat from our usual supermarkets here, I find I have an extreme desire to only get it from places where I know how it was raised and where it came from. Thankfully, we have the opportunity of having meat markets that sell only relatively local (from the NW), small-farm-raised, naturally pastured meat, we get fresh milk from a farm an hour from our apartment. We get vegetables from our own garden, from farmers markets, and otherwise, as much as possible, from places in town that sell produce from no further away than California.

We're getting more and more into food preservation, so sauerkraut, homemade yogurt, cheese, sour cream, pickled veggies, canned tomatoes, etc are going to be more and more prevalent in our kitchen, allowing us to be even more picky about what we eat and where it comes from...

The problem, as you say, is that eating good food in our system costs way more (due to government subsidized mass meat production and other things)...

the American government in so many ways seems to put so much money and effort into supporting the irresponsible, unhealthy and destructive ways of life, doesn't it? It's not the land of the free, it's the land of the people who have to fight tooth and nail to do what's right against the grain of the whole fabric of society.