Before explaining what being a locavore can do for you, let’s answer what might be the first obvious question: what the hell is a “locavore”?!
A locavore is someone that tries to eat food grown, made, fished, or ranched locally. Okay, what does “locally” mean? That depends on you and what makes sense to you given where you live. For some people a 50 mile radius would work, while for others a 100 mile radius makes more sense.
The bottom line for this locavore project: know where your food comes from and strive to decrease the radius from which you source your food.
Why bother jumping through these hoops just to fill your refrigerator?
Well, here are 7 things that striving to be a locavore can for for you (and your community … and the planet):
- First, you’re going to get much fresher food when you buy lettuce from the farmer down the road rather than from a grocery store, where the lettuce may have been shipped across the country, depending on the season and where you live. Fresh food is more nutritious than food trucked across the country because food nutrients breakdown with time.
- Eating locally means you’ll be eating healthier because you won’t be eating processed foods. Processed foods — any processed foods — are not as good for you as whole foods. On average it takes 5 calories of energy to process 1 calorie of consumable food, not including the calories to ship the food.
- When you purchase foods grown or raised locally it supports local businesses. And when you support these local businesses they can expand to provide even more of your food needs.
- Being a locavore, you’re probably going to start heading to the local farmer’s market (in season, I have about 4 different markets going within a 7 mile radius of my house). Going to the farmer’s market means you’ll have the opportunity to meet some of the people that grow or make the food; take the time to ask any questions you want about the food they’re selling. When was the last time you could do that at the supermarket?
- On average, the food sold in grocery stores travel more than 1,500 miles (it’s a complicated calculation, read here). What that means is that you’re spending money on shipping and less on quality fresh food. Doesn’t make sense to me.
- Treat yourself by finding some great restaurants that are sourcing their food locally. More and more restaurants are making a point of highlighting local food they cook with. Support this effort by seeking out these restaurants.
- Depending on how you shop and what you’re looking for, it could save you money. It depends. If you join a local CSA (community shared (or supported) agriculture) you very likely could save money with an initial investment. This is subscription farming; you buy a subscription to a farm and their products.
Did I missing any of the benefits of trying to go locavore? Improve the list by leaving a comment.
Also, if you live in Western Massachusetts, check out the Google map of local farm stands. I’m looking to build this into a resource for finding local food from small stands.
Top photo (CC) Asiatic League