Have you ever caught yourself, mid-bite into a juicy burger (veggie, beef or buffalo) loaded with all the fixings, and stopped to consider where it all came from? Like, how did your home-grown tomato end up nestled next to an avocado from California, topped upon a patty of ground beef processed in Kansas?
In the last few years, in some part due to the economy and in large part due to environmental and health factors, a lot of people have begun questioning how far their food has traveled from farm to fork and what that distance (and oftentimes disconnect) means for the planet, their health and the pocketbooks of themselves and their neighbors.
Accordingly, some people are changing their eating habits and a new diet and lifestyle has emerged: the locavore.
Locavores try to consume food that is grown or produced within a 100 mile radius of their homes. By purchasing goods locally, locavores hope to lighten their carbon load (the transportation of food stuffs contributes a significant amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere) while stimulating their local agricultural economy. And, of course, they’re doing it for their health. Foods produced locally are fresher and almost always taste better.
Interested in consuming foods grown and produced close to home?
Admittedly, winter is a tough time to start, but it’s far from impossible.
Grocers and restaurants in many communities have responded to the growing demand for food produced locally and now carry decent to great selections of local foods. Many make choosing local easier by labeling their menus and grocery shelves. Fruit and vegetables can be bought preserved, and many areas produce root vegetables and squashes year-round. Local eggs and milk are almost always available in most areas.
Feeling a bit more ambitious? Buy a share in a cow for milk (and eventually meat) or a share in a pig. Start farming chickens, goats and bees (ah, my dream…).
Pop online and Google what sorts of foods are grown year-round in your community. Contact a local farm or two and ask questions about the availability of winter vegetables, milk, eggs and meat. If you need to hit the grocery store tonight or plan on eating out, select something grown or produced within 100 miles of home base.
‘Tis the time of year to buy a share in a local community supported agriculture (CSA) program. This is a great option for those too busy or without the space to grow their own food. Get a box of seasonal, ultra-fresh food weekly from a local farm throughout the growing and harvesting seasons. Purchasing your produce through CSAs stimulates your local agricultural economy and keeps the fresh fruits and veggies so vital to your health easily obtained and abundant.
Buy local! And, don’t just stick to food – although farmer’s markets will soon be sprouting up all over the nation. Our neighbors and members of our local communities produce a wealth of sustainable, commonly consumed goods. Aim to be conscious of what you buy and from whom. When possible, try to buy local, organic and fair trade goods.