On Not Buying Local

Gentle Reader, While I’m closeted writing a novel I hope you’ll enjoy reading, it’s been suggested I post pieces from earlier years … years when I was freshly widowed, living in or near L.A. with my dog, waiting for Bill to appear. Do please bear with me!

A View from 15 years ago: Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Failing the Idealist Test

I had in mind to tell you about a family of wines I’ve recently discovered. They are from Spain and prepared from organic grapes. (I wonder why the wine does not have an organic label … must be something in the vintner’s process.)

But then. I realized that, as a Californian, I should not plump for a wine brought from thousands of miles away.

And as a conscientious greenswoman (is that a word yet?), I should not ditto.

Now I am the sort of global warming obsessive who, when I pass the laundry room in my apartment building and someone has left the light on, I go back, stop, reach in, and turn it off. Who faithfully lifts the charger of her cell phone from the plug because of that commercial with the teenager who got caught NOT doing the same. Rather than drive, I walk and take the bus when I can. I buy as much as possible from the farmers’ market. I am deeply committed to combating global warming.

I was fascinated when I heard that Sir Paul McCartney refused Toyota’s gift of a Prius because it had been flown in (I suppose if someone had driven the car across Japan, caught a ferry to Shanghai, then driven through China and — the most direct route — Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, and Germany to France, caught another ferry across the English Channel to London, Sir Paul would have accepted it).

OK. So in the middle of winter when WholeFoods offers luscious red grapes from Chile, I almost literally turn up my nose at them. Too much pollution dumped from the plane that brought them. But then, skulking about the deli section, I look over my shoulder left and right before snatching up a block of Parmigiano Reggiano … grabbing a block of Irish butter … scooping up Niçoise olives….

I remember when I first was aware that I was eating something fresh from a far-off land. I was nineteen, just arrived in Paris, and at the corner market bought a couple of blood oranges from Israel. I was agog. Until then in my sheltered life, I never gave a moment’s thought to where my food came from.

Ever snce, I am always thrilled when I savor honey from Hymettus … oats from Kildare … cheese from Cheshire, Seine-et-Marne, Parma …. If I can’t be there in real time, I can close my eyes and be there in my senses.

I have read of Barbara Kingsolver’s year of eating only things she grew … of others who only ate food grown within a certain distance from their house. I am filled with admiration. Model deportment. I admire the Slow Food movement, although I confess I know little about it. (I will educate myself, I will, I will.)

But if the point is not to use black pepper from Tellicherry, Cassis from Burgundy, I would be very very sad.

Well, if I tell you about the wines, when I go to buy them, they might be gone. But what are friends for, if not to share? The name is Albero. I’m crazy about the white — it is sparkling and pleasantly dry, makes a lovely kir. There are two reds, one with red on the label, one with yellow — I prefer the red label (you can tell I am not a sophisticated wine person), it’s a Monastrell also known as Mourvedre. And there’s a rosé that is delightful. These are not elevated wines, but modestly priced and pleasing for every night.

Still they’re from Spain. How many tons of pollutants are dumped on the planet to get them here?

Don’t want to think about it.

4 Comments. Leave new

  • My efforts to shop local and eat local are always undone–and will always be undone–by coffee. I am going to look for that wine.

  • Is the white the same as Alberino? (Curious, though I don’t want to interrupt the novel.) It’s a favorite of mine. Don’t know the red, must look.

    One thing we can all do is to keep asking our wine merchants about wine in boxes or (even better) cans. Glass is recylable, but the cost of the necessary high heat is large. Metal infinitely recyclable, and cheaper to transport and process. I’ve had modest wines in cans and it’s fine, ditto boxed.

    • Boxed wine is fine and practical both for its economy and because it lasts and lasts. A box of rosé in the fridge is so helpful for sloshing into this and that (including my gullet).
      Oh, Chris, if only there weren’t so much STUFF on this planet!
      Don’t know about the Albariño. Will investigate. One day. Hugs.


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