Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Locavore Challenge

I admit... when I first heard the term "Locavore" years ago I thought, "Really? Do we need another name?" If you don't live in California you're probably still rolling your eyes at this term. We've had some time to adapt to it here, and I like it. I believe in it, and I am trying everyday to live it more and more. in 2006 a group of people in San Francisco decided to try to eat within 100 miles of the Bay Area and they called themselves 'Locavores'. http://locavores.com/

To eat and buy local is just plain smart.
*It means you keep money in your local community and support your local farmers.
*It means you care about the environment and would rather forgo grapes in January than contribute to all the fossil fuel used to bring them to you. Fuel from trucks, planes and ships. Energy used to refrigerate products for up to 2 weeks in transit. The environmental reason list goes on and on.
*It means you generally don't want to eat your produce with a side of chemicals . More local and small farms will grow organically. However, even if you aren't eating organic local food you are still decreasing your chemical intake since most fruit is picked unripe and chemical ripening agents are added later.
*It means your probably pretty healthy, eating foods with more nutrients, and eating what you're supposed to be eating in that particular season.
*It means you're thrifty since food at the peak of it's season is also less expensive.
*It means you savor food and appreciate flavor- conventional food can be stored for weeks in refrigerators before even reaching your store! All I have to say here is...tomatoes. If you've never eaten a freshly picked tomato, you must.
*It means you value open land spaces. Keeping farms open keeps land, pastures and farms in your local area from being developed. Take your kids to an operating farm....get back in touch with food and create this relationship for your children.

We have lost touch with food as a whole in this country. People are so accustomed to having any food they want at any given time many of us don't even know what is normally in season! Most people would associate watermelon and tomatoes with summer... but how many people know asparagus is April (with a very short harvest) or kale is sweetest in winter. Some of you do...most of the population does not. It makes sense that in autumn/winter the body needs more vitamins and nutrients for cold stress and illness that foods like root vegetables and squashes rich in vitamin A and C are at their peak. There is a reason for this! Shopping at your local farmers market and eating with the season benefits everyone.

The average conventional food item travels 1500 miles before reaching you. WHAT?
Here are two important facts:
***The average US wheat farmer receives about 6 cents of each dollar spent on the loaf of bread.
***Farmers markets enable farmers to keep 80-90 cents of each dollar spent by the consumer. 1

Find a farmers market:

Stop buying heavily processed food. OK, if that's too much...reduce your consumption of these expensive, unhealthy convenience foods.

At the very least. Look to see where your food is coming from. Read the little stickers and signs "Product of..." In January I bet those grapes say "Chile". Cha-ching!!!!
You probably won't run out and declare yourself a Locavore today. That's ok-- just begin to become aware of where your food is coming from, the choices will follow. Trust me.

1. Pretty, Jules. "Some Benefits and Drawbacks of Local Food Systems." Briefing Note for TVU/Sustain AgriFood Network, November 2, 2001.