Monday, July 16, 2012

Where Does Your Food Come From?

Last night I was pulling produce out of my refrigerator in preparation for dinner.  Most produce I buy organic for health and environmental reasons. But even though I was eating pretty healthy, I looked at the labels on some of the packaging and realized most of the produce has been shipped from Mexico, and in some cases Europe or South America. Eek. It made me wonder how long these veggies had been on a plane or truck, and how much pollution this contributed to the environment. Also, I've realized that some of this produce doesn't last very long in my fridge; carrots and zucchini seem to get rubbery in just a few days after buying, so I have to eat them quick. Who likes spending their hard-earned money only to have to throw out food a few days later? Not me. So what is the solution?

Over the last few years, you've probably hear the term "locavore" at one time or another. So I started thinking about becoming more of a locavore. A locavore?  What exactly is this, you ask?  Some new trend that the hipster kids in Silverlake are practicing?  Probably.  But I think we should all try to practice locavorism.  Locavorism - is that a word or did I make it up?

A locavore (or sometimes localvore) is someone who is committed to eating food that is grown or produced within their local community or region.

I AM a bit crunchy and am concerned with global warming, but don't get me wrong; I try to also be a realist and know that sometimes if we want mangoes in the winter and other off-season fruits and veggies, we have to import. We are pretty spoiled and I'm not certain this is the best way to go. Is it better to try and eat local and enjoy in season foods?

Benefits to being a locavore

Local produce is fresher, tastes better and can be more nutritious
Local produce takes longer to ripen which means a longer shelf life
Buying local also can mean buying seasonally - these foods are more plentiful and less costly. Most            local, seasonal foods are much cheaper than let's say, oranges shipped from Florida in the winter to other states, or as I mentioned, mangoes from Mexico.
Supports local farmers/local economy - your money stays within your community and strengthens your economy
Smaller carbon footprint - less pollution

How do you become a locavore?

Ask your supermarket to carry more local produce
Visit your farmers market and get to know your farmer
Choose 5 foods you know you can buy from a local source
Join a CSA - Community Supported Agriculture program
Eat at restaurants that support local farmers
Visit a farm - this creates a relationship and you have more confidence in where your food is farmed or raised. If you have kids, make sure to bring them along as this is a great way to educate children so they have a connection with their food.

What inspired me to write this article?  Check out Entrepreneur Magazine  "How the Farm to Table Movement is Helping Grow the Economy"

Other Resources:

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