Aug 31, 2012

Sichuan countryside

An accidental locavore is quite proud of herself

The beautiful countryside

On our second night in China – during a discussion of what vegetarianism is, and why Peter was one – our boss Sarah proudly told us that the chicken in the soup we were eating was grown locally and free range. (It’s hard to eat vegetarian in China.)

Farm

Months later, our neighbor Wendy told us, in passing, that she was going back to her hometown that weekend to get her pig. She brought me a sample when she got back, and it was delicious.

Before all that, back in New York, I was a big believer in the gospel of Pollan et al.: Our diet impacts the environment, food miles matter, CSAs are a good idea, etc. But I was a terrible disciple. The furthest I went toward living those ideals was stopping by the Union Square farmers market and picking up a bottle of Long Island wine and a wedge of Hudson Valley-made cheese every couple of weeks.

Here in Luzhou, however, it turns out that supporting your local family-owned farm is the default. Being city people, we did not give too much thought about what was beyond the city’s borders, but when we finally did venture out into the countryside, we found hundreds of kilometers of small farms nestled into the mountains. Which is, duh, where all that food at all those farmers markets comes from. And why even the menu at 串串 varies seasonally. We’re all locavores! And it tastes so good.

Now, we’ve read that there is factory farming in China, so it’s not like were living in some untouched Eden, unsullied by modern knowledge. But China, believe it or not, is actually aware of the same environmental dangers that the west knows about, and there is a growing green movement in response. (A lot of these farm houses were crowned by solar water heaters, for example.)

It’s hard to say what will happen in the future, because there are some hugely complex issues tied up in food production and feeding a population, and, again, all I do is eat here. But I do know that that was a damn good chicken soup. Even Peter agrees.

Enjoy another original production from Whoop Wu studios.