It's easy to lose sight of one reason we shifted away from locally sourced food in the first place. Nature does not generate consistent results when it comes to growing and temperatures. Drought like conditions have existed across large chunks of the country for the last few years. Without modern pest control and modern irrigation systems, we would start running into issues keeping people fed if we relied on local sourcing. Being able to truck food in from places that are not having growing issues helps keep food supply high. (For the moment we are going to ignore the corn/soybean surplus since that's another issue. I'm talking about straight up reliance on local food. Five years of drought can destroy production in an area and ruin farmers.
Now we can go back and forth on the whys and wherefores. The fact remains, you take out genetically modified crops, modern pest control, and modern chemical preservation techniques and things can get tricky. Don't believe it, check out Africa where many starve because they refuse to accept genetically modified foodstuffs.
Shifting back to the local food movement, I'm going to spend a good part of my summer wrestling with a food sourcing issue. This past weekend, an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico sank. It's now in the process of leaking oil out into the Gulf. For me, the Gulf falls into my "local sourcing" pile. I've got a big circle which includes Central Texas, and I ooch the Gulf in to that circle since it's my closest source for seafood. I've been looking for recipes that feature fish common to that area.
Now I've got an environmental disaster in my food backyard. As of today, the experts are saying that there shouldn't be an impact on the marine life so long as the oil slick doesn't hit land. I'm pretty sure that is not the case. I'm recalling information from previous oil spills which describes the impact on marine life. Saying there's no impact is a stretch.
So I'm looking at a bit of a conundrum. Do I go with local seafood to honor the intent and spirit of my challenge or do I shift to seafood sources which are safer? I've got the luxury of choice. There are many in the world who do not.
Once upon a time, there was no choice. If the harvest was bad, you starved. If there were diseases which wiped out the shellfish population, you had no shellfish. One of the benefits to non local food is not being a prisoner of this particular cycle.
Something to ponder and something I need to figure out before I start buying my gulf shrimp.