It’s another gorgeous day outside. I haven’t even seen a cloud for five days. Clearly, I’m not in Seattle anymore. I’m half-way through a 10-day vacation, call it a trial run for our new life, in Idaho.
K.M. and I are moving to Boise. In fact, he and Kali (our aged cat), live here already. The dogs and I are running a couple months behind, with a projected arrival date of mid-November. I know what you’re thinking, believe me. The odds are I know more about Idaho than you do; it was one of the states I covered as a researcher for the LA Times. And, yes I already know it is one of the reddest states in the nation, thanks.
So far though, (based on my three weeks of extensive experience as a visitor over the last two months), what I didn’t know about Boise has by far outweighed all that I knew about the area as a whole. I’m even starting to think that Outside magazine may have a point – they are certainly right about the North End, the neighborhood where I hope we’ll end up living.
But there’s no question that this move requires a more thoughtful commitment to sustainable living. I’ll need a bigger garden, and I’ll have to be more flexible, and more organized at the same time. But it may just end up being a more meaningful commitment.
In Seattle, there are three year-round farmers markets; a local organic grocery store chain, and countless restaurants ranging from the high end to bakeries, coffee shops, and burger joints that tout their farm-to-table philosophies, and fair trade ingredients. When we travel, I board my dogs at a place that makes food for their canine guests, rather than using commercial products. Even the CSA I belong to is flexible enough that I get to choose what’s delivered every week. I will miss all of that, along with the smell of the salt water, and the taste of ocean fish.
Since I stated this project I’ve been telling myself the changes I’ve made over the last year or so are philosophical, worth some sacrifices and inconveniences. Truthfully, the only significant commitment I’ve made is financial. Real food simply costs more money. But so far, it’s been pretty damn easy for me to buy pasture-raised chickens, local organic berries, farm-fresh dairy, and produce that’s logged less than 150 miles to reach me.
It’s going to be different in Boise, but not anywhere near as hard as a snobby Seattleite like myself might think. Boise has a thriving farmers market from April – December. I’ve already joined the Boise Co-op., so there’s actually a grocery store whose philosophy matches my own. And I’ve found some great resources, including Edible Idaho, and the Treasure Valley Food Coalition. There are also more than a few CSAs in the area, including at least one, Morning Owl Farm, with year round deliveries. And I’ve found local sources for milk and fair trade coffee.
My mother-in-law spent the summer in Seattle, visiting from India. She was elated to visit farmers markets with me, and to meet a friend of mine who raises chickens and bees in her urban backyard and supplies her friends and neighbors with eggs and honey. Kushi described how my sister-in-law in Kolkata is making the same kinds of choices to support a more sustainable food system. For her, these parallel experiences highlight the possibility of worldwide change.
I’m a lot more cautious, and a lot less optimistic. I know that the steps I’m willing to take don’t add up to that much. And I don’t think any of us can overlook the fact that even considering these questions constitutes a luxury. But if I can make it work, starting from scratch in a new place, maybe it really can work anywhere, and everywhere.