How to Be a Locovore
A locavore is anyone who only eats food from the local area. Local foods are becoming increasingly popular because they are perceived as fresher, healthier, and more beneficial to the environment and the local economy. Is being a locavore the right choice for you? Read on and decide for yourself.
Know your reasons for preferring locally grown food.Here are some common reasons:
- Foods shipped long distances are often picked while they are unripe, stored for long periods of time, and handled extensively.
- Even fruits and vegetables undergo processing. Waxes and dyes may be added, and fruits picked unripe may be ripened with ethylene gas. Because of this extra handling, they may not be as fresh as locally grown foods, and they may be at greater risk of carrying diseases and contaminants.
- Buying fresh, locally grown food supports local farmers.
- Locally grown foods are "greener", since less energy is required for shipping, handling, packaging, etc.
Decide how strict you want to be about eating local food.It need not be all or nothing, especially at first.
- Decide what you consider local. A 100-mile radius is a good, approximate number to aim for, but depending on where you live, it may not be possible or practical to choose only those foods grown that close.
- Decide whether to make exceptions for foods that simply don't grow in your area. Depending on the climate where you live, you'll probably need to make exceptions or do without certain foods. You can favor local foods that are available while still including more exotic foods for variety.
Shop your local farmer's market.In many cases, you can purchase good produce directly from the growers. If you have any questions about where things come from or how they are grown, ask the sellers.
- Look for unusual varieties and be open-minded about trying new foods. Ask to sample fruit you are considering, especially if you are unsure about an unfamiliar variety.
- Ask for advice on preparing and caring for the vegetables being offered, especially if you find something you don't normally purchase or use.
Visit local and roadside produce stands, especially any that adjoin fields, farms, or orchards.Get to know the proprietor(s) and ask questions. You can learn a lot about what went into your foods.
Ask where food comes from.It's less and less economical to ship stuff long distances, so even your grocery store may have local foods. The produce manager, if you can find him or her, should know where the foods there came from.
- Asking good questions can also help remind your grocer that fresh, local foods are their customers' preference. They may be more inclined to favor local sources and post information about foods if they get such inquiries frequently.
.Those little stickers with the produce code may be annoying, but they often mention where food is grown. Bags, cartons, and other packaging materials around the foods may also include information about the source of the foods.
Distinguish between foods that are local (grown nearby) and foods that are organic (grown without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers).Many foods are both, but one does not necessarily imply the other.
Know the best seasons for various foods in your area and favor those foods during those seasons.Since apples are a late summer to autumn fruit, an apple purchased in June might have been in storage since last October. You'll get the freshest, ripest foods at the best prices by buying foods when they're in season. If you have the chance to talk to growers at a produce stand or farmer's market, ask them. Otherwise, read some gardening books and look up seasons for particular foods of interest.
- Many fruits and vegetables have been cultivated to mature over a wider season, so strawberries for sale in August may still be fresh picked even if the ones you grow at home ripen in June. If you'd like to know, ask.
Examine the source of your grains, dairy products, eggs, and meats, if you eat them.You may be able to find local sources of many things besides just fruits and vegetables. You could even raise your own chickens.
Minimize the quantity of processed foods you eat.
- Choose foods that are locally processed (canned, baked, and dried goods are often available at produce stands and farmer's markets) or homemade.
- Do your own cooking whenever possible. Restaurants and prepared meals might contain ingredients from anywhere.
- Can, dry, and freeze your own foods.
- Prefer fresh foods to preserved foods when they are available. Use foods preserved by natural methods to fill in when fresh foods are not in season or when you lack the time or resources to prepare fresh foods.
- Select foods based on taste and quality, not strictly on appearance. Commercial foods are often waxed, dyed, and subjected to other processes before being offered for sale. They may also be grown for appearance and storage abilities rather than for flavor. Local and organic foods, by contrast, may be less glossy or brightly colored. Do choose firm, ripe produce, but don't rule out smaller grapes, and unexpected colors.
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