Are you looking to do good with your eating habits? One way is to eat local food and become a "locavore." What is a locavore? A locavore is a person who is committed to eating food that has been grown in the region where they live. It's not always an easy lifestyle, but you can take small steps and still enjoy the many benefits!
Why Buy Local Food?
When you buy food that was grown nearby, you cut out the transportation costs,such as fuel, wear and tear on roads, and tire usage. You are also eating with the seasons, connecting with your region, and deepening your sense of place. You will support your regional economy by purchasing from growers, farmers, producers, and bakers who pay taxes to your city, county, and state.
While all of this is great, the largest benefit is a personal one. You'll be eating fresher food that most likely tastes better, has retained more vitamins, and contains fewer preservatives. What a win, win, win! Find what produce is in season where you live on the Seasonal Food Guide website. Each state has its own guide with specific growing times.
Procuring Your Local Food
Look to food destinations like farmers' markets, CSAs, and farms themselves. Farmers' markets are where you will find farmers selling their produce and locally made baked goods. They can be harder to find in the winter, but during the slower season you can also be on the lookout for local grocers, local restaurants, and indoor markets. In Cleveland, we have a great hydroponics company that grows lettuce and herbs year round!
Your go-to grocery store probably also has local food lurking in the corners. Try looking more closely at labels when you're shopping. We have a popcorn grower in my region that sells popcorn balls, bags of pre-popped popcorn, and kernels to pop on your stove. (It's totally my favorite snack, I admit!) There's a whole shelf of popcorn in the store, but the local variety is in the back of the produce section. Browse the out-of-the way sections of your own store and see what you find!
To help you grasp the changing of the seasons and what that means for food growing and buying, you can reference a graphic tool like The Local Foods Wheel. The Locavore app can also provide you information about what's in season while you're shopping and help you find shops that sell local food.
Of course, you can't get any more local than growing food on your own property! Starting an outdoor or indoor garden cuts out all transportation and gives you fresh, delicious, and seasonal produce at your fingertips.
Making It Your Own
You can decide how you want to define your personal locavorism. You could set your radius at food grown within one hundred miles of your home or extend it to 250 miles, for example. You decide what local means to you. Talk to your family about how you want to practice locavorism together. Are there foods you are willing to make an exception for? Don't worry, you can still call yourself a locavore even if you don't practice it 100 percent of the time.
Do make sure you are getting enough nutrients while eating locally. Don't cut out essential food groups to obtain your locavore status—stay healthy! For instance, flour and rice are hard to grow everywhere. Make allowances and, in some cases, accept foodstuffs that are grown within the United States as local enough!
What is a local food you didn't expect to find in your region? What creative approaches to locavorism are you taking? Let us know on Twitter!
The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom's of Maine.
Why It's Good
Eating food from local farmers and growers is not only good for you, but also good for your regional economy and community. You'll be eating seasonal food that's fresh and delicious while supporting local businesses and reducing transportation costs.