One benefit of being a youngish righty is to see many fields where things, in my lifetime at least, have gotten quite a bit better. Divorce and crime rates have been dropping for some time now, and there are other areas related to quality of life that have improved markedly from the recent past.
I am especially pleased by the renaissance in home cooking and the do-it-yourself mentality that helps get adults off the couch (when it is not 112 degrees outside) to create something. Conservatives should be eager to embrace trends that hold on and restore the traditional and old, rather than the cheap and disposable. Related to all of this is the highly salutary nature of the “eat local” movement spreading across Oklahoma City.
Not only do I embrace this movement, but I want to encourage all of my fellow conservatives to join me and live it, because it is a truly conservative development.
First of all, conservatism is inseparable from a belief in private property.
Properly understood, private property is not the shares of stock in your bank account that your grandmother gave you, but something for which you are responsible and learn to maintain. The more we eat local, the more the restaurateur, coffee shop owner, and even farmer, can hold on against the placeless conglomerate. A population of owners is more conducive to a free society than a society of managers who answer to a faraway power.
Next, eating locally keeps us in touch with origins, and there is nothing more conservative than that.
Whether it is seeing the restaurant’s herb garden, or being able to visit the farm where our meat was once alive, it is healthy in an urbanized society to be reminded that food does not originate in cardboard or freezers.
Finally, I want to invoke the godfather of American conservatives, Russell Kirk. Kirk famously held that conservatism is not properly understood as an ideology, but an inclination, a temperament. Given that, he knew in order to make conservatism understood, he attempted to explain it in six “canons.” My favorite is as follows: “Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence, as opposed to the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems.”
That is the real root of my embrace of the “eat local” movement.
When I am in Oklahoma City, I want to know it. I do not want to go to the same restaurant (or pub, coffee shop, etc.) that I can anywhere else. I do not want to eat the same food, drink the same beer and be surrounded by the same art and architecture that I can everywhere else. I want something distinctly Oklahoman. So pull up a chair, pass me an onion burger and put some Red Dirt on the radio. I will call the owner over, and he will tell us some stories.
Reese is a lawyer in downtown Oklahoma City.