Archive for November, 2007

Localitarians of the world…

November 15, 2007

I have found the locavore/localvore debate just as amusing as the media-hyped “local foods” fad that it represents, but the selection of locavore as Oxford Word Of The Year is a sad (to me) indication that standards of word-formation ain’t what they used to be, if they ever was (he drawled twangily).

I have been a believer in (if not always a consistent practitioner of) eating locally produced foods ever since in the 1960s I joined an organic foods co-op here in Berkeley (when Alice Waters was an undergraduate French major). One of the duties of membership was driving to nearby farms for bulk purchases of fresh produce, dairy products and meat. Some of us called ourselves (on my suggestion, he noted modestly) localitarians, in an obvious play on vegetarian, and we would use the term in conversation: “Are you a vegetarian?” “No, but I’m a localitarian.”

Vegetarian has long been used as the human equivalent of herbivore, which — along with carnivore — has traditionally been applied to nonhuman animals, for the good reason that vorare means not simply ‘eat’ but ‘eat like a wild animal’ (hence devour). The ending -arian generally denotes a conscious adherence, in contrast to the genetic programming implied by –vore. But then, who cares about tradition anymore [sic, he added sarcastically]?