The Pros and Cons of
Becoming a Locavore
What is a locavore (also known as a localvore)?
If carnivores eat meat, and herbivores eat plants, then
eat locally produced foods, whether meats or produce. But what constitutes local?
definition can vary widely. Some claim it's only food grown within
50-100 miles of you, which works well in farm country. But if you live
in a large metropolitan area you may
have to make your "border" larger.
In 2008, U.S. Congress actually
created an amendment to the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act
defining "local" or "regional" as the area where the final product is
marketed, where that product is transported less than 400 miles from its
origin. That's a much broader area, and essentially means the product
has traveled no more than one day to reach its market.
in the grocery store, in contrast, have often traveled more than 1,500
miles to get there. That's a long way to go to get to the consumer, not
to mention the impact on our environment.
Why should this matter to us? Let's look at the reasons.
The Pros of Eating as a Locavore
There are many reasons to try to eat more locally produced foods.
- You absolutely can't beat the taste of just-picked produce and conscientiously-raised meats and eggs.
- Your food can be ripened to perfection before being picked. No days or weeks in transit and sitting on the grocery shelves.
- You can't get any fresher
foods than those picked a mere 24 hours before being sold to you. In
addition, you won't be eating much processed food, if you stick to local
foods whenever possible.
- You'll get a lot more nutrition
from your food. The longer produce sits, the fewer nutrients and
enzymes are available to nourish you and your family. The more humanely
and naturally livestock is raised, the more balanced the fats and
nutrients in the meats you get from them.
- You are far more likely to be getting pure foods, uncontaminated by pesticides and chemicals, because most small, local farmers raise their foods organically.
- You may actually get more variety
than the grocery stores can offer. Small farms often raise meat and
produce varieties that chain groceries can't offer, because they don't
ship well. And just as often, these varieties taste better.
- You'll be helping your local economy by keeping your money in your community.
- You'll be helping conserve energy
and cut down on pollution. If it hasn't been shipped as far, the food
you eat is using less fuel to get to your table. Add to that, many
conventional, large-scale farms tend to use petroleum-based fertilizers
and pesticides, raising their energy "footprint" even higher.You'll
actually be reducing the cost to our environment, even though
meats and produce from large scale farms cost less in the stores. The
hidden costs to our environment include soil erosion, pesticide
contamination, and chemical runoff. The cost to us? Health issues (and
their related sky-high costs) from eating poorly-raised, chemically
preserved foods that do the opposite of nourishing us. Finally, if there
near you, you may find you're saving money in the long run. And you'll be supporting your local farmer at the same time.
- You will help decrease the depletion of soil fertility, because local farmers tend to rotate crops and livestock, and allow their soil to rest when needed.
- Last, but definitely not least, you can get to know your "neighbors" better, whether it's the local health food store and staff or the farmers at the local farmers market. Get to know your neighborhood.
So with all those great reasons to buy and eat locally, are there actually any cons?
Perhaps a few.
The Cons of Eating as a Locavore
- Unless you live somewhere fresh produce can be raised
year-round, you will have to settle for in-season produce. That's not
all bad. What better way to celebrate each season than to eat the foods
traditionally available then. If you still want some of those summer
fruits and vegetables in the winter, try freezing or canning for later
- You may also find that your area can not produce some of the fruits or vegetables you really want. As a locavore, you can
compromise by buying frozen or fresh shipped in from longer distances,
if you really wish to have those items, too. Just keep in mind the added
"costs" of non-local foods, and try to keep the bulk of your food
buying from local sources.
- It may cost more than
commercially-raised foods offered in grocery stores. With all the pros -
freshness, nutrition, fewer health problems, a better local economy
& caring better for our earth - this may not be a bad trade-off.
The bottom line? Becoming a locavore is definitely worth the effort. It will improve your own health, improve the local economy and improve the health of our environment. All with one small step in the right direction.
local organic food visit us and other vendors at the Vineyard Farmers Market all year round from 7 a.m. till noon on Sundays, and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays!
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