I've had an interesting food-oriented week this week, and it's not even over yet. On Monday, I attended several panels at The New School as part of Edible Magazine's Eat, Drink, Local Week. I was able to hear the thoughts behind the supposed renaissance of DIY food creation, like butchering and canning, and to listen to whether or not "authentic eats" are just coming into their own or if they are already past their prime. The topic of what are "authentic" eats was quite debated, as this is a term that morphs with each wave of immigrants to the city and what cuisine gains ground through osmosis into the American culture.
Unfortunately, I couldn't stay for the entire third panel, which covered the changes in the New York area food system from the earliest menus on file at the New York Public Library to the founding of the Greenmarkets and beyond. Having read Appetite City: A Culinary History of New York by William Grimes, I've been fascinated about how what previous inhabitants of this area ate and how things have changed. In some ways, I thought that all of these should have been melded into one giant panel or brought together in some manner, as they seemed to cover an arc of food history that encompasses how we make our food (pre-packaged vs. DIY), what kind of dishes we eat (Italo-American, German, Jewish, etc.), and how we actually get the items we need to make meals to eat (i.e., local farmers' markets and small speciality shops)
As part of the Eat Drink Local Week, Edible is partnering with several organizations, including GrowNYC, which organizes the Greenmarkets. Edible has even issued a challenge to make folks more aware of their local food community and the resources that exist in their region. While some of these are specific to New York, it's not a bad list to try to tackle in any area to become in tune with what might be some locavore options where you live. I've actually done quite a few items on the list as my diet has become more oriented towards shopping in the farmers' markets in the city. The one thing I did decide to do this week is a variation on item #2; I decided to go to the Union Square Greenmarket but on a different day.