(I'm taking the day off from blogging because - well, it's my birthday. But here's a blast from the past, summer 2008 archives to be exact, which still seems topical.)
Looking through the style sections of newspapers or magazines this summer, you'll see three buzz words or phrases appearing again and again: (1.) locavore, (2.) staycation and (3.) edible landscape. Taken together, they represent what I hope will be the next big trend in lifestyles in this country. I think we would be a better and healthier country for it.
Locavore is a word that I don't remember ever hearing until this year. It's an offshoot of the local food movement which has actually been gaining in popularity for some years now. I think it has been helped along in recent years by all the scares about unsafe food products and the suspicion that we can no longer depend upon the Food and Drug Administration to ensure the safety of commercially produced food.
In addition to food safety, it also is tied to a philosophy of supporting one's local producers of food who are one's neighbors and who are often small-time gardeners or farmers who take a great deal of pride in the quality of their product. And, in the event that something does go wrong, you know where to find the person responsible!
Locavores enhance communitarianism with their support of locals. That strengthens communities and that is a very good thing.
Also good, I think, is the trend this summer of families spending their vacations at home. Now, I am all for travel. It broadens the mind and refreshes the spirit. But often there are hidden treasures to be found in one's own neighborhood or even one's own backyard.
I know, for example, that there are any number of wonderful attractions in the Houston area that I still haven't gotten around to seeing even after 20 years! I could probably take a different day trip every day from now until the end of summer without visiting any place I had seen before. Even people who live in places that are not as replete with museums, parks and wildlife areas, spas and playgrounds as Houston can find plenty to do in their own neighborhoods if they truly look.
The staycation seems to be primarily a strategy for handling higher gas prices and I think it is a very healthy reaction to that challenge. Conservation is always a good thing. We should practice more of it.
Both the locavores and the staycaters have come together in the renewed popularity of Victory Gardens. This movement, started at a time of war, had dropped out of favor for many years, but this summer I've been reading more and more stories about urban-dwellers who are turning their yards - even their front yards - into edible landscapes. It seems to be an idea whose time has come. Not a moment too soon, in my opinion.
Increasingly, people who have never gardened before or have never grown vegetables before are trying their hand at it and finding how very satisfying it can be, not to mention how much tastier the food is when you grow it yourself. There is even a new category of entrepreneurs for busy city folks that can't find the time to grow their own garden. They can hire local gardeners to come and grow the food in their space. Such people who hire others to do the hard work are known as "lazy locavores" but I say it's better to be a lazy locavore than a non-locavore.
Amid all the doom and gloom news this summer, I find stories about these trends to be encouraging. Perhaps we haven't completely lost the ability to respond positively and not just in the old knee-jerk ways to challenges and to seek solutions that enhance our lives and the environment. One can hope, anyway.