Saturday, December 11, 2004

Farmer's markets, and blue water as a wedge issue 

Today I went to Reading Terminal in Center City, Philly, and bought steaks and chops from an Amish farmer, potatoes from a certified organic grower, a superb artisanal Brie from Green Valley Dairy, and honey from a local beekeeper. In each case, I was doing three things: (1) Supporting a local small business, (2) not polluting my body (or my mind) with chemical-laden corporate food, and (3) providing tastier food for myself. (I also got a copy of the Philadelphia Independent, so I didn't pollute my mind with corporate media product either).

I was also doing a fourth thing. Read Kid Oakland at Kos, who missed it, and see if you catch it.

It was a mostly idyllic day at the Berkeley farmer's market...

I went with 15 dollars in my pocket and some good friends and came home with a handful of organic brussels sprouts, a world class pear (the kind they serve at Chez Panisse for dessert), an artisanal loaf of bread baked by a friend of mine, an unwaxed apple, a tangerine, three organic yellow onions, a head of the best looking broccoli I've ever seen, and the lingering taste of a bite of vegan chocolate banana cake...mmm...oh, and 7 dollars and change...

Berkeley's farmer's market is a tribute to everything that is great about "Blue" America...

Here I part company with Kid Oakland. I don't see the significance of our purchases as, primarily, a Red/Blue thing at all. (It's probably a purple thing—some red, some blue.)

So, (4)—the fourth thing—by purchasing local produce, I was helping to heal the relationship between the American City and the American Country. (Corporate farming, obviously, can't do that. Not even on their radar.)

A healthy relationship between (blue) cities and (mostly purple and red) country is important for the country, and for Democrats to win. Unfortunately, the political establishments (bluest blue or reddest red) can get in the way of this rapprochement.

Is there a political issue around which local growers in the country and their buyers in the city can coalesce?

I think there is. The issue is water (profound, primal). Recall that one reason the blue states are blue is that they are water states: On the oceans, the Great Lakes, and the Mississippi and its tributaries (the famous red/blue maps, though hopelessly polarized, also show this clearly). Blue states can't tolerate polluted water. I don't think local growers can either. But Republican policies, and Red State political establishments, encourage pollution in the name of corporations.

So, can water be a wedge issue? "We thank you, Almighty God, for the gift of water." (Episcopal Book of Common Prayer). Well, how are the Republicans treating this gift?

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