Where the Heck did This Come From? Ever had an apple from a supermarket and wondered where it actually came from, or how long it’s spent in a ‘ripening room’? Do you look forward to summer when you know water melon will be in season? In part #04 of our World Environment Day 2013 ‘Think.Eat.Save’ theme we look at the Locavore movement.
The term Locavore is cited as arising around WED in 2005 and the movement itself was founded by Jen Maiser, Jessica Prentice, Sage Van Wing, and DeDe Sampson in San Francisco. A Locavore is someone who only eats food that has been produced within 100 miles of where they are. You could of course set your own boundaries if preferred, e.g. within your bioregion, your watershed etc.
Why bother? Well, all of our food has an ecological footprint as a result of how it is produced, stored and transported. Eating locally connects us with our seasons, reduces transport emissions and creates local jobs and food security. It’s also fresher and more nutritious.
Here are my top 5 tips on how to source more of your food locally;
- Grow your own; zero food miles, maximum satisfaction. When I see my kids picking things from our patch and popping them in their mouths I figure I’m getting something right [it freaks their Mum out sometimes]. Check out my earlier post on victory gardens.
- Go to Market; local farmers markets are popping up all over – from farm to fork without the shop in the middle. Highly engaging too. This food is seasonal and hasn’t been stored in cool rooms or ripening rooms, so the footprint is lower. Much of this food is also organic.
- Eat Seasonal; this one’s great to get the hang of – there’s something poetic about linking our food with the seasons… but it takes some research to learn about what’s seasonal in your local area. Talking to the store owners or farmers at the markets are the best ways to learn up.
- Find locavore restaurants; get into the habit of asking the chef where the food came from – I’ve found that almost without exception good chefs are really switched on and passionate about this, if for no other reason than freshness and taste.
- Subscribe to a Farmer; there are a growing number of Community Supported Agriculture [CSA] offerings around, e.g. Aussie Farmers Direct in Australia. The farmer picks your order and delivers it to your door. Even using the local green grocer gives you a better chance of finding local food compared to the larger chains.
I found the infographic below which I thought was a great interactive seasonal food calendar – it’s from the UK though so don’t rely on it unless you live there. You’ll have to get online to find one for where you live.
The locavore component of sustainable food is one of the more significant impacts on city planning and design – we have to get really smart when trying to allow for local food production and markets, particularly when we need to prove that this will contribute to yield rather than diminish it [clever word play huh?]. Urban Agriculture is also another rapidly growing trend, but I’ll reserve that for a dedicated post later on.
My best tip for getting started? Just start with one fresh item each week – you’ll build up your knowledge faster than you think.