This evening during our nightly phone call (whenever Deus Ex Machina goes out of town, he will always call me first thing in the morning and before bed at night - I love it that he always thinks of me, even when his mind is very focused on the task at hand. It makes his being away not so difficult to bear, because I know I'm in his thoughts :), Deus Ex Machina and I were talking about the 100th Monkey Phenomenon.
According to the theory if enough people believe in a particular idea or habit or theory, it becomes accepted by the masses. The thought is that there is a number of "critical mass" in which a new idea is accepted by a magic number of people and thereby becomes "truth" for the population as whole.
The whole idea is just fascinating, and while there are many articles that attempt to debunk any truth to the phenomenon, I have actually seen it at work.
Two years ago, being a locavore was an anomaly. Most people didn't even know what it meant, and when my family had our pictures in the paper for our "All Local Thanksgiving Day" meal in 2007, it was News!. Now, it's just an every day thing. Some part of every meal is local, and a good lot of what we eat is "home grown."
For the world at large, the locavore ideology is growing, almost exponentially, in popularity. It's no longer a fringe preoccupation for some core group of eco-freak-o's. The result has been an increase in farmer's markets and local foods establishments across the country.
Two years ago, urban and suburban homesteading were an anomaly, and now towns across the US, who are changing their ordinances to allow for citified animals make headlines almost daily. The college town of Orono, here in Maine, recently joined the ranks of municipalities who are drafting chicken ordinances.
The 100th Monkey theory is that it only takes a tiny percentage to accept an idea before it becomes "normal", and based on the current world population, only 8000 people have to believe that our future depends on localizing our diet. When we get 8000 die-hard locavores, we've won the battle for localizing our food, and it's quite possible that the result will be the end of world hunger.
If fewer of us in the western world are taking food out of the months of those in the third world, maybe it will stay where it's most needed ... and that is, where it was grown. Maybe it means that my children will never eat another banana ... but sweet potatoes grow in Maine and have all of the same nutrients (plus some) of bananas. I think we'll probably be okay.
This month is the annual Eat Local Challenge. If you're just getting started down the local foods path, I couldn't recommend joining the challenge more. We participated for two summers and two "Dark Days of Winter" local challenges, and because of the challenge, I realized how incredibly rich and diverse my local food shed really is. I might never have known if I hadn't been forced into it with the challenges.
One meal, per week, all local foods for the month of October.
What are you waiting for?