These days, we hear a lot of words tossed around that might just be a bit new or a bit different in the way they are used than what we were taught in school as children. New doesn’t mean threatening or something else negative though. Sometimes, it’s a concept that is very, very old!
Like the locavore.
The first time you hear that word, it’s apt to conjure up images closer to a werewolf than anything you would think of your grandparents or great grandparents having been. The truth of the matter is, we all descend from locavores, and it’s not a case of evolution either.
At it’s simplest, a locavore simply means that someone chooses to eat foods produced as locally as possible, foods that are not shipped immense distances at incredible cost in terms of energy and nutrition. All of us descend from people who did just that, for that was the way of the world until commercial transport of fresh, frozen, and preserved foods became commonplace in the 20th Century. In those pre-shipping days, most people also lived on farms rather than in urban environments, and the bulk of foods consumed were produced within a 10 mile radius of where one lived, often right on the same farm on which a family lived.
That’s a far cry from today, when a visit to the grocery store is like a whirlwind trip of the world, with vegetables and fruits from around the world featured in vast bins, lit up and backed by mirrors, complete with auto-misting that often will even play a recording of thunder before it gently mists the fruits and vegetables below. Our grandparents and great-grandparents would have been goo-goo eyed with awe at such an array!
Today, there is a growing movement encouraging people to buy, use, and eat locally produced produce, meats, and other products. It’s not only good for your wallet, but it is also good for the environment, as those products have not consumed vast amounts of energy being transported by train, plane, and truck to your market, where you drove your vehicle to purchase them. Even grocery stores have jumped on this bandwagon, often advertising the fact that something was locally produced rather than shipped in.
Here on the Gulf Coast, it’s practically a locavore’s heaven, with the wide variety of grains, fruits, and vegetables produced within a relatively close radius of one’s home. (Depending on the definition, “local” is defined as either 100 or 250 miles radius from one’s home.) By choosing locally produced foods, we are encouraging our own economy to grow, as well as getting fresher foods. We’re also often buying directly from the producers, via either the farm itself or a farmer’s market.
So how do we find these locally produced foods?
It takes a bit of effort sometimes. For the biggest savings, as well as larger amounts suitable for freezing, canning or drying, we often will want to go directly to the farm. To find local “U-Pick” farms, check the want ads of your local paper, as well as these websites:
So what kinds of produce are available at these farms?
Almost any vegetable is available, depending on the farm. Blueberries are a big crop for “U-Pick” operations as well as blackberries. Most of the farms have a season in which they are open, so not only check their website, but also it may be a very good idea to call or email to ensure that they are still in business as well as get an update on when the fruits or vegetables you desire will be available.
Remember, when purchasing from a local supplier, you are doing much more than merely getting fresh produce. You are helping someone local pay their mortgage, send a kid to camp, pay for dance lessons or Little League, etc. Your dollars spent locally do a lot!