Categorized | Featured, Nutrition & Health

Looking Local

We all know we should follow a healthy diet. Fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean proteins are the name of the game. But what if you took it a step further? What if you could help your body and the earth with your diet?

For locavores, that’s exactly the point.

Although people have been eating fresh food for years, the term “locavore” is relatively new. Four San Francisco women coined it in 2005, as they attempted to eat only food produced locally. Since then, the movement has traveled across the country, from kitchen to kitchen.

These culinary adventurers eat only food grown within a certain radius of their home. The distance varies, but most locavores have adopted 100 miles as the benchmark. One of the purposes of the locavore movement is to become aware of food’s origin and the path it takes to get to your table. The further away food has to travel, the more pollution is created from trucks, trains and planes.

And think of the freshness! As anyone who’s ever gone apple or berry picking can attest, there’s nothing like fruit fresh off the tree or vine.

Carrie Connell of Westport, CT began following a locavore diet when her child developed allergies. She did research and concluded a local, organic diet would be the best thing for her family. She’s amazed at how delicious fresh, local vegetables taste without all the extra butter and salt. Buying only food that’s in season can also be easier on your wallet, as anyone who’s ever bought fresh berries in the dead of winter knows.

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So, how can you start phasing in a locavore diet? Jennifer Maiser, author of the blog Eat Local Challenge suggests swapping out five foods you commonly eat for local varieties. Not every crop is grown in every region of the country, but fresh eggs, milk, cheese and poultry can be found pretty much anywhere. According to Connell, the biggest adjustment to a local diet is shopping. “You can’t always find what you want, when you want it. The upside is that you get creative with what is in season.” Cooks who love a challenge will embrace a locavore diet for all the new flavors and foods it lets them try.

Visiting a farmers’ market is a good first step in eating local. This guide from The USDA maps many of the markets throughout the country. Small farms can sell their goods directly to market shoppers, avoiding pricey middlemen. You’ll eat healthy and support the local economy.

Community supported agriculture programs take it one step further. Members invest in a local farm and receive weekly “shares” of fresh meat, produce, poultry, eggs and other products produced by the farm. Farmers and members have a mutually beneficial relationship, with farmers getting income early in the season, before peak time, and members getting a better connection to their food.

“It is a lifestyle change and it takes time to get use to. Change a few things at a time and eventually you will embrace it with ease and it won’t feel like you’re giving anything up!” says Connell.

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Interested in trying it out? Check out this sustainable food finder. Enter your zip code and you’ll find restaurants, stores, farmers’ markers, even caterers that use locally produced food.

Written by Danielle Bullen for Moxy Magazine, May 2011. Images courtesy of flickr.com users ndrwfgg (in post) and photo farmer (front page).

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About Danielle Bullen

Danielle Bullen was bit by the writing bug early and it never left. She wrote her first story before she was in kindergarten. Danielle grew up in Havertown, PA, just outside of Philadelphia. She earned her English degree at Saint Joseph’s University, where she wrote an op-ed column for The Hawk, and liked it so much, she stayed on Hawk Hill and got her M.A. in Writing. Studies. Her further writing adventures included Making Bread magazine, Haverford college’s newsletter and magazine, the web sites Campusphilly.com, Mostlyfiction.com, Mavenmagphiladelphia.com, and Padosa.com. Currently, she works as a magazine editor. When she’s not writing or reading anything she can get her hands on, you can find her at yoga class, drinking massive amounts of coffee, cheering on the Phillies, or at game night with her friends. You can find her on Twitter at @daniellewriter and read some of her past work at www.daniellebullenwriting.weebly.com.

7 Responses to “Looking Local”

  1. Dorrie says:

    Thank you for publishing the USDA farmers’ market map. I can’t believe how many little markets are organized in my area! I am excited to go shopping!

  2. I wrote about the locavore movement for @moxymag http://ow.ly/4QhCj

  3. I love to buy from local farmstands and now that spring is finally here in the northeast, nothing beats local corn, tomatoes or fruit.

    • Agreed. Our family friend runs a local farmers market and grows sweet corn. Stopping by to pick some up is always one of the best parts of summer.

  4. Marcia says:

    I’ve found when I commit to getting myself to the local farmers markets and using the small chef-owned restaurants and bakeries, I meet the same people over and over. My town, Princeton, of all places feels so much more friendly and intimate.

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