By Barry Foy, Special to The Ethicurean
BAKER HEIGHTS, WA — Only a few miles outside the town of Mount Vernon, in Washington State’s Skagit Valley, the Diaz-Elliott family recently embarked on a bold experiment in local food sourcing.
In hopes of reducing their carbon footprint by minimizing the distance that food must travel to reach their dinner table, this independent-minded clan has sworn to go no farther than their own refrigerator for the ingredients of their next year’s worth of meals.
Proud dad Lincoln Diaz-Elliott detailed some of the ways in which he expects this effort to help save the planet: “First, we’re dispensing entirely with the need for plastic grocery bags,” he said, “or even paper ones. And the gas we save on trips to the supermarket can power the generator that’s hooked up to our strictly therapeutic hot tub.”
The program is only a few weeks old, but Diaz-Elliott says he’s been pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of food available so far. The family has enjoyed vegetables on a regular basis, as well as some fruit, a wide range of condiments, dairy products such as butter and yogurt, beer, meat and eggs, and even vitamins.
The only thing missing in the new diet, says Diaz-Elliott, is grains and other carbohydrates. But he takes a philosophical view: “The way I figure it,” he says, “if God had meant humans to eat wheat and other cereals, He would have given us teeth that are suited to grinding, like horses have. Probably toward the back of our mouths.”
He adds that the family has resisted the temptation to stretch the guidelines to permit ventures into the adjacent freezer compartment. “I’m not saying it’s been easy,” he says, “but this is not a game. If it’s worth doing at all, it’s worth doing in a serious way.”
Not all the Diaz-Elliotts’ neighbors are impressed with the family’s crusade; some suggest that their “locavoreanism” may be going too far. But Lincoln refuses to compromise: “How far should a person be willing to go for a cause like this? Well, in our house, let’s see, from the couch to the kitchen—that’s got to be a good 15-16 yards. But we believe that Mother Earth is totally worth the sacrifice.”
If rumblings from Wall Street are anything to go by, his attitude won’t be on the fringes for long, as the local-food movement gradually makes its way into the mainstream.
In a notable example of this green-ward drift, the Ford Motor Company announced on Monday that it will offer, as optional equipment on its 2009 Excursion and Expedition SUVs, a small built-in refrigerator, to enable environmentally conscious owners to adhere to locavore principles no matter how far from home they wander.
Seattle writer Barry Foy is the author of The Devil’s Food Dictionary.