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March 22, 2008 / Politics / Park Slope / Perspective / PS … I Love You

A Park Slope homesteader

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Tip O’Neill used to say that all politics is local. Who knew it extended to food?

Leda Meredith believes it does — and now she’s on a mission to only eat foods that come from within a 250-mile radius of Brooklyn.

“I wanted a personal connection with the people who grow my food,” Meredith said. As one of the members of Park Slope Community Supported Agriculture, Meredith already had more of that connection than most of us. A CSA is a partnership between a neighborhood and a farm, Windflower Farms in Valley Falls, New York, in this case.

Inspired in part by author Barbara Kingsolver’s book, “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: A Year of Food Life,” Meredith set herself the task of only eating foods that are grown or raised within 250 miles of Park Slope for one year — no exceptions.

Well, OK, there are always exceptions. In this case, she has allowed herself to buy coffee, olive oil and salt from outside the circle (coffee from upstate New York? Not likely). And twice a month she allows herself to eat at a friend’s house or be taken to a restaurant by one of them.

Surprisingly, though, most of her friends are so excited by her mission that they are trying to prepare meals that fit within her challenge. Meredith says her friends are on board because food tastes so much better when it comes from local sources.

Of course, being a “locovore,” as such people are known, is not easy. At first, Meredith said, the logistics required in hunting out enough local foods was daunting. And finding out which foods at the Park Slope Food Co-op are locally produced is not always easy (yikes! She’s a Co-op member and a CSA member? She should get a medal!). But now, seven months in, her trolling for local providers has become automatic.

Eating locally invariably means eating seasonally — and planning ahead (with the onset of winter last year, Meredith took to canning so that she would have some variety during the cold months). There are downsides, of course (her tiny one-bedroom apartment has canned tomato sauce and jams stashed all over the place, including under her bed).

And after the year is up?

“I think I’ll continue at about 90 percent,” she said. “If I’m cooking a meal and am out of onions, I might just go the nearest grocery store.” Sellout!

Updated 5:05 pm, July 9, 2018
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