Top Ten Reasons To Go Local

Though there has been a pretty strong movement over the past few years toward eating more local, there is still quite a bit of resistance. On Twitter, I was told that there is no way we could feed the entire American population with only food grown locally to the many different parts of the world and the growing populations of some of the more densely populated cities. I saw this as a challenge, but unfortunately, I knew that I could not win such a bet due to far too many factors. Stupid logistics. What I can do is try to encourage the world to eat locally. What better than a top ten list? Here are the top ten reasons why you should be a locavore!

 

  1. You’re supporting your community.

    As you spend your dollar on a head of lettuce or a Tomato you’re buying in WalMart, there’s a good chance that you’re supporting a corporation. That would be all well and good, but you know that corporation is not in your home town and that tomato and head of lettuce are probably grown thousands of miles a way. If that’s what you’re doing? How much of yopur money do you think is staying locally? When you buy local, you’re dollar stays local. Huh, that’s some concept, isn’t it? Besides, how can you look your local farmer in the eye and tell him or her that you’re buying tomatoes grown in Mexico now.

  2. Reducing the uses of natural resources.

    How do you think that orange got to your table? I know you like oranges. I like oranges, but seriously, do you think it just (poof) one day appeared in the store? No way! That thing had to travel thousands of miles to get to you using more gas than me after a night of chili. If you think about it, if everyone stopped buying food grown elsewhere, don’t you think there would be less of a demand on imported oil? Just a thought.

  3. It’s more nutritious.

    As your corn travels from one side of the country to the other side, it’s losing nutrients quickly. Think about it, it’s at its nutritious peak prior to picking. Once it’s picked, it’s dead. It’s not gaining nutrients, it’s decaying. All that is healthy is going as well.

  4. It tastes better.

    See what I said before about the nutrients? Same goes for taste, unless you like rotted food.

  5. Less residue buildup

    What the hell am I talking about? Well, as your food is traveling from one city to another, it’s picking up residue from roads, different coolers in which it’s stored, from different handlers. If it was picked right before you eat it, you’re going to eat less crap from the rest of the country.

  6. It’s keeping with the times

    Since when are we able to grow beautiful fresh tomatoes in January? Think about that for a minute.

  7. Better for the Air Quality

    When you’re buying food from Mexico or wherever you’re buying it from that’s not from your local farmer, you’re putting tons of carbon emissions into the air. You know that whole climate change thing? Yup, it’s your fault!

  8. Better Variety

    Your grocery sells the name brand stuff that they’re told will sell by the huge corporations who grow them. Your farmer likes to try new things, which in turn give you variety. Don’t they say that variety is the spice of life? Or is that dill?

  9. Conserving land

    The more you buy local, the more the farmers need the land. Aren’t you sick of these tracts popping up all over?

  10. It’s personal

    When I look at my food, I know where it came from. I know that it was produced with ethical growing standards. I know the people who grew it, and I know that every little bit helps.

Keeping It Locavore

One of our favorite blogs, Reduce Footprints issues bloggers a challenge every Wednesday. Change The World Wednesday. This week the challenge is to share ideas on how to eat locally throughout winter, and how to continue throughout the year.

Michelle and I live in Rochester, NY. While we have one of the more fertile climates in the country, which is near perfect fro growing just about anything you could ever need or want, we also live in one of the most hostile climates where we could go months enjoying sub-zero temperatures, or at least we used to. Things have been a little different over the past few years, but we’ll get into that discussion some other time. As I stated, we live in Rochester, NY, which will probably never get confused with Puerto Rico or Southern California. Our growing season, which can be very fruitful and diverse, is also a lot shorter than it is in much of the rest of the country, so living as locavores is a little harder than most, but somehow we manage.

We love the summer months. The garden and the farmers markets are abundant with everything from fruits to berries, to juicy heirloom tomatoes, to fresh chicken and beef. You can’t help but to stop at every vendor at the market and drool over what could be the most perfect example of tomatillos you’ll ever see or fresh pasta made with local flour and local herbs and seasonings. There are times when I found myself so overwhelmed with choices that I just bought it all. Life can be hard.

Unfortunately, tomatoes, tomatillos, Watermelon, and swiss chard don’t grow forever. Though many roots and leafy greens will continue growing well after the first frost, they aren’t going to grow forever, and certainly not enough to keep us fed until harvest next year. We have to make choices. We have to plan. We have to execute the plan.

With just about everything we but at the market or grow in our gardens, there is a part that will never be eaten, and for some things, we could never eat all we grow. Beets are the perfect example. We love beets in our house, as they are the perfect example of what a sustainable food should be. Every part of the beet is edible. We love to roast the beet bulbs in the oven with other roots, such as potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic, but we also like to pickle them. Sliced into cubes and pickled in vie gar, we have fresh beets year round. The greens are also great. Chop them right where they meet the stalk, blanch them for a minute, throw them into a freezer bag, and throw them into the freezer until February or whenever you want to eat them. The stalks, we put into a pot with carrot greens, wilted greens or any other wilted veggie, boil them in a couple gallons of water, strain the water into freezer bags and freeze. Or we put them into jars and proceed to can them. Either way, you have broth year round. The left over veggies go into the compost.

Really, being a locavore is about making the best of the resources in which you have. It’s about knowing what you have and how to use it. No one ever said being a locavore is easy work, but it is a noble pursuit and anyone who does it should be given a lot of credit for what they are doing.

For any questions about living locally, feel free to email me or leave a comment below.

Living Locavore

As summer winds to a close in Rochester, Michelle and I find ourselves, as we do every year about this time, far less dependent on the grocery store for what we need to survive and enjoy the finer things in life. It’s the time of year when we can pretty much say with confidence that we’re full-fledged locavores. I’m still going to go out of my way to get a few things like kitty litter. I’ll tell you right now, it would take one hell of a hit in the head to convince me that making my own kitty litter is for the best. Besides, Tuesday is so picky, she’ll end up crapping on my favorite shirt, anyway. So, it looks like we’re still going to be going to Wegman’s. Nobody ever said we’re perfect.

As far as food is concerned, though, there is no reason to step foot in any grocery store except for baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, rice, oil and salt. No reason, what so ever, We live in upstate, New York. This place is a perpetual buffet of fresh and ethically grown produce, meats, dairy products, and anything else you could want to eat. I would go as far as saying that we’re one of the best places in the country for agriculture and fresh food. The perfect place to be a locavore.

A question I get quite often is What is a Locavore? A locavore is someone who eats food that is produced within a specific area around ones home, or wherever you might be. Different people seem to have different ideas. We like to keep it within 100 miles, depending on what it is we’re looking for. Some things might even travel up to 250 miles. We do it because we believe in the ideology of the locavore movement. We believe that we are more in control of the food we eat. We know our producers. We can see if they adhere to the ethical standards in which we believe in and live to, ourselves. We know that our food is at its freshest, as it had only traveled a short distance from farm to table. We are also aware of the fact that we are creating a smaller footprint. Less distance means less dependence on fossil fuels. Don’t even get me started on how being a locavore is essential to the sustainability of your community and how you’re supporting your local farmers…

As Michelle and I travel farther and farther down the road to sustainability, and learn new ways to grow, harvest, purchase, and preserve our food, we find that we are able to maintain a locavore lifestyle a little longer. Where we once struggled to eat locally for more than a month, we are able to survive locally for six or seven months. With our future plans, there is a good chance we will be able to achieve a locavore lifestyle year round.

Tryin’ to get by, just like everybody else. The Farmers Market

The vendors at our farmers markets aren’t there because it’s a hobby, they’re there to make a living, trying to sustain their way of life that has very often been handed down generation to generation. The prices are what they are. The small independent farmer is competing with giant factory farms who can afford to cut prices, but when you see the prices, you feel that you can haggle for a lower price. For the slightly higher price, you’re going to get meats and produce that are grown to a higher ethical standard, support a local farm, and have the opportunity to get to know the wonderful people who have put their hearts and souls into what they do.

The small, independent farmer works hard to bring you the highest quality day in and day out, often without the chemicals and genetic modifications and mutations that are better off in a science lab somewhere. I know you would love to show the farmers that you’re the boss and haggle until you get your quart of peaches for free, but you’re not walking through a market in Delhi, you’re on Main Street.

The next time you’re at the farmers market, I would like you to show all the farmers a little more respect. Like you, they are often struggling to keep food on their tables and a roof over their heads. The next time, smile, say hi, ask how much, and pay it. You’re paying for local and ethical, two things you won’t get at Wal-Mart.

The First Step On The Journey To Sustainability

The first step to sustainability is not as simple as one would hope. It’s a deep rooted, almost philosophical idea known as perception. Perception is the intuitive recognition or appreciation as a moral, psychological, or aesthetic qualities. It’s not how you look at something, but how you understand it. For myself, sustainability is taking responsibility for ones actions economically, environmentally, and ethically. It’s the understanding that my actions or inaction’s not only effect myself, but also my community, and the planet as a whole. That is my perception.

Michelle and I have been working toward the ultimate goal of sustainability for a while now, and of all the progress we’ve made, I believe our perception and understanding of what sustainability is has built a solid foundation for the rest of our lives. Though we have hit some major speed bumps and dead ends, we believe we’re doing the right thing.

Stay tuned for the second step, becoming involved in your community