At some point in elementary school most of us learned the meanings of the words carnivore, herbivore and omnivore. I'm willing to bet that no one ever heard of a locavore. A locavore is a person who eats food that was grown locally. More and more people are discovering the benefits of eating locally grown foods. Before the rise of interstate highways, cross-country shipping and refrigerated trucks, most people had to eat food that was grown within 100 miles of their home. Local eating was not a trend. It was a simple fact of life. Now that life as we know it is no longer so simple, most of us are accustomed to purchasing grapes from Chile, oranges from Florida, beef from Texas and milk from Wisconsin. It's normal for us to have a basket full of groceries from 17 states and 6 countries, making it equally normal for us to have a basket full of highly processed/preserved food.
Studies have proven that less processed foods are generally healthier than more processed foods and many people are making an effort to seek out fresher, healthier foods. The best way to get fresher, healthier foods is to purchase food that does not have to travel a great distance to reach your local market. In most cases the closer you live to the source of your food, the less preservation it will require to be edible when you purchase it.
If you aren't really concerned with the health risks associated with excessive preservation, maybe you'll be interested in the possible cost benefits of purchasing locally grown foods. If you purchase vegetables grown on a farm 40 miles from your home, you will probably pay for the cost of the vegetables, the gas that the farmer used to drive into town and the market fee. If you purchase vegetables from thousands of miles away, the cost is likely to include packaging for frozen or canned foods, refrigeration/freezing, gasoline for long-distance travel, wages for truck drivers and plant employees and anything else that is involved in keeping your food edible as it makes its way to your pantry. Have you noticed how food prices are increasing? That's directly related to the increasing price of gasoline? Food that doesn't have to travel so far requires less gasoline and will often cost less.
If improved health and better prices haven't gotten your attention, may the environmental issues around our nations food purchasing habits will. Shipping food over long distances requires large amounts of gasoline. Freezing and refrigerating food over long periods of time requires large amounts of electricity. All of this can be avoided by purchasing as much locally grown food as you can. You could even take another step and try growing some of your own food? What could be more local than your own backyard, courtyard or balcony?So why not try being a locavore? It's generally better for your health, easier on your wallet, better for the environment.
For more information on being a locavore, check out the following...
Go Green Nola: Eat Local Challenge
Eat Local Challenge