Fresh & Local
Everything I Needed
Column #45, Published July 27th, 2012

There is currently a food revolution going on. Locally grown food is making permanent inroads into the food we eat, and the way we think about food.

My friend Pat Sanders sent me a magazine article recently with a note that said, “This sounds like one of your columns.” I felt a stab of dread. If this article turned out to be badly written, or it scolded people for owning hot water heaters, then this could have been a very discouraging experience.

But I did not need to worry. It was a column titled “Growing Roots” from the July / August 2012 issue of Eating Well magazine written by the editorial director Lisa Gosselin. I was not familiar with Eating Well magazine, although it is an important subject to me. It did sound like one of my columns in that Ms. Gosselin hit on several of the themes I have written about. But she also has a compelling story about lifestyle change.

Ten years ago, Ms. Gosselin fled Manhattan (her words) and bought a 160-year-old cabin in rural northern Vermont. It was unoccupied and nearly overtaken by the forest. She said that, “[The cabin] had nothing that I wanted in a house: no closets, no TV reception, no cell-phone service, no Internet access. It had everything I needed.”

From Manhattan to a cabin in northern Vermont. That is some change.

Some of this I can understand; some of it, not so much. I can understand fleeing Manhattan. I have never been to Beirut, Lebanon, but of the places I have been, Manhattan is probably my least favorite. But I grew up in upstate New York, and there has never been a moment in my adult life when I ever considered moving somewhere where it snows eight months out of the year.

As part of this change, Ms. Gosselin discovered locally grown food and rediscovered cooking. As she put it, “In the years since I bought the cabin, what started out as a shy whisper – ‘Where does this food come from?’ – has become a conversation, a chant, and now almost a roar.” That is remarkably close to something I have said.

She goes on to say, “‘Local’ has become the new ‘gourmet’.”

Although she had never heard the term “locavore”, she started what she calls her “10-mile diet.” She planted a garden, picked berries, and bought chicken from a farm down the road. She admits that she survived only because there was a brewery, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters within that 10-mile radius.

At the beginning of this column each week, I try to reinforce the idea that locally grown food is making permanent inroads into the food we eat, and the way we think about food. Ms. Gosselin’s take on this is, “I see the changes that have happened to our food in 10 years. And I have hope.”

She concludes her column by recalling an evening sitting on her porch in an Adirondack chair after a dinner of trout, chives and crabapple pie. “I realized then, I had everything I needed.”

What strange words. When was the last time you heard someone say that they had everything they needed? Sometimes we spend so much time focused on our wants that we forget what we have. The important things in life are not complicated, and they may be a lot closer at hand than we realize.

Bryant Osborn and his wife Terry own Corvallis Farms in Culpeper County. His column on fresh and locally grown food runs every Friday. He can be reached at