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Eating Close to Home

From: Atlantic Public Media
Length: 07:42

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Bill McKibben decides to eat only food grown locally. In the winter. In Vermont.

Dsc4486_small Author and enviromentalist Bill McKibben goes an entire winter eating only foods from the Lake Champlain valley in Vermont -- and learns lessions about the global food system. EXCERPT: TOP OF PIECE McKIBBEN: The apples in my market annoy me. They're from China and New Zealand and Washington state, and I live in Vermont's Champlain Valley, one of the world's great apple-growing regions. So, what an annoying waste of energy to fly these Red Delicious in from halfway around the planet. And what a waste of taste?these things have been bred for just one purpose-- endurance. Mostly, though, they're annoying because they don't come with connections, with stories. They've been grown on ten thousand-acre plantations with the latest industrial methods and the highest possible efficiency. They're cheap, I give you that. But they're so dull. [HUMMING SOUND OF CIDER PRESS] McKIBBEN: The roar you hear is a cider press. It belongs to my neighbor, Bill Suhr. His fifty-acre orchard produced a million pounds of apples last year, so he's not a backyard hobbyist. SUHR: This time of year we're putting six varieties in: the Macintosh, Empire, Cortland, Macoun, Northern Spy, and Jonagold. McKIBBEN: I drank a lot of Bill Suhr's cider this past winter because I'd asked the editors at Gourmet magazine if I could perform an experiment: could I make it through the winter feeding myself entirely on the food of this northern New England valley where I live. Up until 75 years ago or so, everyone who lived here obviously ate close to home?an orange or a banana was a Christmas-time treat. And that's still how most people on the planet eat. But I knew that most of the infrastructure that once made that possible was now missing. Our food system operates on the principle that it's always summer somewhere, so it's forgotten how to get through winter. How many houses have a root cellar? Not mine. If I was going to make it, I would need to make connections with my neighbors. ...continued in Eating Local Food

Piece Description

Author and enviromentalist Bill McKibben goes an entire winter eating only foods from the Lake Champlain valley in Vermont -- and learns lessions about the global food system. EXCERPT: TOP OF PIECE McKIBBEN: The apples in my market annoy me. They're from China and New Zealand and Washington state, and I live in Vermont's Champlain Valley, one of the world's great apple-growing regions. So, what an annoying waste of energy to fly these Red Delicious in from halfway around the planet. And what a waste of taste?these things have been bred for just one purpose-- endurance. Mostly, though, they're annoying because they don't come with connections, with stories. They've been grown on ten thousand-acre plantations with the latest industrial methods and the highest possible efficiency. They're cheap, I give you that. But they're so dull. [HUMMING SOUND OF CIDER PRESS] McKIBBEN: The roar you hear is a cider press. It belongs to my neighbor, Bill Suhr. His fifty-acre orchard produced a million pounds of apples last year, so he's not a backyard hobbyist. SUHR: This time of year we're putting six varieties in: the Macintosh, Empire, Cortland, Macoun, Northern Spy, and Jonagold. McKIBBEN: I drank a lot of Bill Suhr's cider this past winter because I'd asked the editors at Gourmet magazine if I could perform an experiment: could I make it through the winter feeding myself entirely on the food of this northern New England valley where I live. Up until 75 years ago or so, everyone who lived here obviously ate close to home?an orange or a banana was a Christmas-time treat. And that's still how most people on the planet eat. But I knew that most of the infrastructure that once made that possible was now missing. Our food system operates on the principle that it's always summer somewhere, so it's forgotten how to get through winter. How many houses have a root cellar? Not mine. If I was going to make it, I would need to make connections with my neighbors. ...continued in Eating Local Food

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Review of Eating Close to Home

I liked this. It got me thinking about my own community. Plus, I learned a few things. And his authenticity and passion come through without beating me over the head and the use of sound was purposeful.

I found the opening a bit awkward. Personally, I might have opened by describing the magazine assignment. It seems like the best and most direct way to set up the story. And the early narration was a bit on the stiff side but he found that storytelling voice, if sporadically, as the piece progressed.

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Review of Eating Close to Home

This piece does a good job of engaging the listener. It provokes him to consider his relationship to his community and consider what he would like that relationship to be. Sound is used well. I don't have a hard time getting drawn into the story.

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Review of Eating Close to Home

I like this piece a lot. The writing is good, and the piece is personal and annecdotal while managing to maintain relevance all the way through. Most importantly, I leave wanting to find out more about local farms in my own region, what is produced there and how it tastes. So it's successful on a basic level. And the interviews are really animated and personable. The voicing is a little rough at points... mostly near the beginning, before he gets so excited by the story that he loosens up and just tells it. Near the beginning, there are mouth-smacking noises and the pace is kind of slow. My only other criticism is that the point, the conclusion, is repeated a few times. I think it would be powerful if he just stated his point once and then got out. But really good. Really informative. The listener gets more from it than just the quaint story of a guy who did an experiment for a food magazine.

Broadcast History

Broadcast on Living On Earth in 2005

Transcript

McKIBBEN: The apples in my market annoy me. They're from China and New Zealand and Washington state, and I live in Vermont's Champlain Valley, one of the world's great apple-growing regions. So, what an annoying waste of energy to fly these Red Delicious in from halfway around the planet. And what a waste of taste?these things have been bred for just one purpose-- endurance. Mostly, though, they're annoying because they don't come with connections, with stories. They've been grown on ten thousand-acre plantations with the latest industrial methods and the highest possible efficiency. They're cheap, I give you that. But they're so dull.
[HUMMING SOUND OF CIDER PRESS]
McKIBBEN: The roar you hear is a cider press. It belongs to my neighbor, Bill Suhr. His fifty-acre orchard produced a million pounds of apples last year, so he's not a backyard hobbyist.
SUHR: This time of year we're putti...
Read the full transcript

Timing and Cues

CREDITS: Bill McKibben is the author of "Wandering Home: A Long Walk Across America's Most Hopeful Landscape, Vermont's Champlain Valley and New York's Adirondacks." His story on local food was produced by Jay Allison, Chelsea Merz, and Viki Merrick. Special thanks to the public radio website, Transom-Dot-Org, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Related Website

http://www.transom.org/tools/beginnings/2006/200602_bill_mckibben/