By Luci Fernandez
One topic that has been making the news on a regular basis is local food. The term localvore (or locavore) is defined as someone who eats regularly from their local foodshed (usually defined as within a 100 to 250 mile radius). But for those just starting their locavore journey, the question is 'how does one start'?
Look out your window. What do you see? Do you see an endless expanse of lawn? This is your first potential source of local food. Start small; for example, plant an herb garden with hardy herbs to withstand the learning curve you will undergo. Just being able to add fresh herbs to your home cooking makes it special. You can impress your friends by saying, "Oh, I just picked the parsley from the garden today!" You say you don't have a lawn to rehab, well then start with container herbs on a sunny kitchen windowsill. I didn't know much about growing vegetables when I started tearing up my front lawn, but if I had waited until I knew everything, I would have never started! Making mistakes has been my best teacher!
Compost in a BowlMeet a farmer. When is the last time you shook the hand of someone who grew something you ate (and said thank-you)? Think about how much we depend on these folks who grow the stuff we love to eat. Find a local farmer's market and talk to these folks. Ask them how they grow their crops, how they treat their animals, why they do what they do. And they buy from them!! Buying directly from the farmer puts more money back in their pocket than when you buy products from the grocery store. If you don't have a local farmer's market, talk to your local government officials to help sponsor a location for one. We started one last year after many years of dormancy.
Just because, it didn't work before, doesn't mean you can't try again.
Challenge your grocery store produce manager. We recently found out that our local chain grocery store was placing 'locally grown' signs on produce willy-nilly. When asked what his definition of locally grown was - he said 'anything grown in the US'. I guess he hasn't read the definition of 'locally grown.' Don't be shy about questioning your local produce manager and asking them to support locally grown produce.
Start a food co-operative grocery store. Ok, this one might be a little harder to accomplish. We are in the early stages of developing a grocery co-operative grocery store in our town to support locally grown and raised products and to support the local economy. Locally grown and local economies go hand-in-hand in supporting each other. This effort will involve more than just yourself. Find out if there is a locally buying club.
Talk to them about joining efforts. Are there any community groups working on local food issues? Partner with them to get the word out to the community. We are partnering with the local sustainability not-for-profit organization and we will be using films about food issues to stir up interest in the community.
As you can see, there are many facets to locally grown food. You are only limited by your imagination and ability to challenge to status-quo of where our food comes from. If we are what we eat, then I want to make sure that what I eat is the best I can get! Bon appétit!!
Luci is a native of New York City, Luci has lived from the east coast to the west coast. Luci currently works as a Sustainability Planner for Ft. Bragg. She previously served as an Army Officer for 5 years and worked as a registered nurse for 10 years. She has been active in local sustainability issues since returning to Fayetteville NC. She volunteers with Sustainable Sandhills, a local sustainability focused organization and served on the City of Fayetteville Recycling Task Force.
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