In Seattle, eating locally can be almost unnaturally convenient. I order online, and in the dead of night, a burly man (or maybe it’s a woman— I never see the delivery person, so I wouldn’t know) hoists reusable grocery bags from his truck in the rain, eases open my creaky screen door, and slides local kale and cheddar onto the porch, usually without even waking the dog. For breakfast, I sauté the greens and pile them over last night’s roasted potatoes, then top them with a blanket of cheese. It melts while I make more coffee.
It’s a locavore’s dream, living here. But a couple of years ago, I started to wonder: What does it mean for this food to be “local” if I made no part of the transaction with an actual human being? And what is “local,” anyway, besides the descriptor all foodwise upper middle classers are supposed to put in front of everything we eat?