Just as a "carnivore" eats only meat, a "localvore" or "localtarian" eats foods raised locally. Melissa Larson of Seattle, for example, led her neighborhood in an experiment inspired by the book "The 100-Mile Diet": For a whole month, they aimed to eat only foods grown within 100 miles from their homes. Larson did it by shopping at farmers markets, now numbering more than 4,000 nationally. She loved the superior flavor of local produce, including "the best melons I've had in a long time."
Pick up two apples at the supermarket, and you'll get a sense of why there's a growing belief that eating locally is more important than eating organic foods. Chances are, one apple grew in your state or region, meaning your purchase helped support that local farm. The other apple may have grown in New Zealand - thousands of miles away. Its shipment required the burning of far more global-warming fuels and much of your money went to middlemen instead of the apple grower. The same lesson applies throughout the produce and meat aisles, where you may find lamb from New Zealand, grapes from Chile and beef from Argentina.
Buying local foods encourages local farms to stay in business, which is especially crucial now: Every minute, two acres of agricultural land are lost to development, according to American Farmland Trust. Where will food come from if too many farms convert to housing or other uses?
Natural food stores and local food cooperatives make a point to highlight local produce and meats. Another source of local foods: "Community Supported Agriculture" programs, which let consumers buy a share of a farmer's yield (see separate definition).
It's easy to add local foods to meals; making the commitment to eat only locally can be tough. For Larson, an obstacle was giving up bread, as some ingredients don't grow within 100 miles. (She occasionally ate locally baked bread.) Chocolate, coffee, tea and many processed foods such as frozen pizza and bottled fruit juices are no-nos. That could sound like a starvation death sentence to some teens.
So, try this: Start off by vowing to make one meal a day out of mainly local foods, suggests Larson, who oversaw the experiment for a neighborhood organization called (Sustainable Ballard). That's enough to make the connection between what you eat and the effect it has on the community.
For more info:
To find a Community Supported Agriculture program you may join, go to: Local Harvest CSAs.
Learn more about The 100-Mile Diet at 100MileDiet.org.
Listen to an interview with Michael Pollan, author of "Omnivore's Dilemma," who argues that we should think globally and eat locally.
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