Robert DuBois and Aaron Zueck have a pretty sweet gig. The two bearded pals took off in April from Hardwick, Vt.--The Town that Food Saved, according to author Ben Hewitt--and began their journey west on a couple of Surly bikes to chronicle local-foods movements across the country. With cameras, laptops, tents and books strapped to their backs, DuBois and Zueck have pedaled everywhere from Brookings, S.D., to Salt Lake City recording local foods stories and sampling the region's bounty.
But why, exactly, is biking cross-country such a sweet gig? In most towns where the two stop, they are greeted with a delicious local-foods potluck. Last Sunday, 25 to 30 local-foods lovers piled into the North End Organic Nursery--all holding steaming casserole dishes filled with locally grown grub--to welcome DuBois and Zueck to Boise. In Zueck's opinion, congregating as a community to share and enjoy food is integral to the spirit of the local-foods movement.
"People never ate the way that we do before we changed our food system," said Zueck. "If you killed an animal, you shared it with people. You shared your goat's milk, your eggs."
For Zueck, who grew up on the typical processed, iceberg-lettuce American diet in Rock Springs, Wyo., the local-foods movement is his generation's Vietnam.
"The people in power now--our parents' generation--have totally screwed this up. We have to band together and fix this. I see the way we grow and ship and consume our food as sort of one of the defining issues of our generation," said Zueck. "It's been screwed up so bad the last few generations, where it's to the point where if we don't fix it now ... it's going to get way out of hand; it's going to be beyond repair."
Zueck and DuBois will end their project--Bikeloc "one part bike, one part local and one part potluck"--in Portland, Ore., in the coming weeks. Check for updates, photos and video interviews of their travels at bikeloc.org.