People are a-buzz about Oxford University Press’ selection of “locavore” as its word of the year (having beat out several words some of us may never have heard of– “bacn,” anyone?).
It’s interesting to think about buzz and how it helps or hinders an idea or movement. If a word is chosen as a word of the year, does that mean it won’t be relevant next year (“locavore” is SO 2007), or does it signal it’s arrival (“locavore” is here to stay)? And if the press grabs a word and runs with it, is it destined to be paraphrased, simpified, and/or plain misunderstood?
Many people scoff at the notion of local eating because it seems impractical, if not impossible, in many parts of the country. Comments on the Oxford University Press blog reflect some of that cynicism–”Another nice conceit for those in lotus land!” When eating local is understood only as an experiment or something that works only if you follow it to the letter, it is destined to end up a forgotten or rejected “concept.” We’re all better off, surely, if local can become a pragmatic ideal–to eat local for as much of your diet as it makes sense (i.e.: why eat a New Zealand apple when the farmer in your town/city/county/state is growing beautiful ones just next door?), and to retrain our bodies to eat seasonally as much as possible.
(for some “local” reading: Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and “My Empire of Dirt.”)