If you have ever compared a tomato ripe off the vine with one of those mealy, mass produced, flavorless ones, you know the superior taste that just picked food delivers, The locavore movement aims to capture that flavor difference and promote sustainable, community based agriculture by favoring “ low mileage” foods over ones that have traveled long distances to arrive at your plate. There are other benefits to eating locally too. One study found that people have 10 times as many conversations at farmers markets as they do at supermarkets. Another study concluded that local based food systems generally used 17 times less fuel than conventional food systems, But sticking to a mostly local diet isn’t always easy. Here’s how to eat – and drink – like a locavore.
FIND LOCAL FOOD SOURCES
The biggest time commitment comes up front, says J B Mackinon, who with his partner, Alisa smith, spent a year eating only foods produced within 100 miles of their home in British Columbia. “ you have to do research to find out where to source foods locally. It took them seven months to find local wheat , but writing about the quest in their book Plenty : eating locally on the 100 mile diet, spurred farmers in their region to plant the crop. Go to 100milediet.org to find tips on getting started. Find sources of local foods ( and even restaurants that serve them) in your area at localharvest.org.
PLAN FOR THE WINTER
The locavore is stuck with what’s ripe now. In the summer, produce is plentiful, but seasonal food can be tough in late winter or early spring, before crops are ready for harvest, says Jennifer Maiser, founder of the Eat local challenge ( eatlocalchallenge.com), buy in bulk and preserve your bounty. Freeze or can berries when they’re at their peak, and you can enjoy them in the dead of winter. Load up on winter squash, carrots, turnips, and potatoes: store them in a cool, dark place, and toss into stews season.
SPLURGE A LITTLE
Small farms can’t capitalize on economies of scale, and that can mean higher prices. But that’s not always a bad thing, Maiser says, “when you’re paying a premium for really excellent meat, it becomes a special treat on your plate, “she says, plus, if you but less because its expensive, you will waste less. Purchasing directly from the farmer also means your money will stay in your local economy. Maiser says that knowing exactly where that meat came from and how it was raised is worth extra penny.
BUY ORAGANIC – SOMETIMES
A study done by the Environmental working group calculated that you can reduce your pesticide exposure nearly 90 percent simply by choosing organic for the 12 fruits and vegetables shown in their tests to contain the highest levels of pesticides. The dirty dozen are ( peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, lettuce imported grapes, pears, spinach and potatoes. But you can feel good about buying the following 12 vegetables locally, even if they’re not organic, because they were shown to have little pesticide residue: onions, avocadoes, sweet corn, pineapples, mangoes, sweet pears, asparagus, kiwi, banana, cabbage, broccoli and eggplant.