Sunday, August 2, 2009

Allie McCullough, 1874 Ypsi Teen Diarist and Locavore, Giggles at the iPhone

Here's part of today's NYT's full-page ad for apps for your iPhone, one of which is the $3.99 "Locavore" app. "Eating local fruits and vegetables is healthy for you," the ad helpfully explains. "Now your iPhone will tell you what food is fresh in your area and direct you to a nearby farmer's market."

The app is symptomatic of a longing for groundedness and meaning absent from the average daily cubicle-worker's life, where meaning and personal accomplishment at the end of 8 hours of pecking on a keyboard is absent.

The app also presumes the user's ignorance of a farmer's market in one's own hometown, a situation that would have been laughable to 1874 Ypsilanti teen diarist Allie McCullough. Regular readers know well that she spent much of her free time receiving calls from friends, making calls on friends, or participating in social events with friends at the Lyceum, at Sunday school, or at gatherings. Instead of consulting her iPhone, Allie would just have asked one of the many friends she had contact with throughout the day where the market was.

But likely she knew already. Advertisements in the papers of her day usually lack addresses. Everyone knew where Samson's variety store was, where the post office was, where the grocers were (who accepted local farm produce to sell, which ended up on Allie's table long before "locavore" became trendy). It would have been silly to print an actual address. Ypsilantians were deeply tied to the community.

Now we need a shiny gadget to tell us where, in our own hometown, we can go and buy arugula, in the modern-day farmer's market cruiser's impotent tribute, via pricey purchases, to people who actually still work the earth and receive the tangible successes and failures from it that our own lives lack.

Allie would have laughed at our foolishness.

No comments :