Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Locavore is a pretty new term, and it is associated with a movement that is really taking off. It got started when two people decided to do a "100-mile diet" for a year. They made a commitment to ONLY eat food that had been grown within 100 miles of their location. It was an experiment, and they learned a lot from it. Many people have been making a commitment to eat "locally" since their story has gained a national audience. In our family, we have made a commitment to be more aware of where our food comes from and to make an effort to eat more locally. We live in a city (or a "freaking" city as this small town girl would say), and I think it is way too easy for people to lose the connection with the food they're eating. It comes out of a box or can - off a shelf - out of a bag or bin - out of a refrigerator. I grew up gardening and canning with my parents. I want my children get get a lot of that same appreciation that I grew up with.

We've had a small, relatively unsuccessful, garden for several years. Since it appears that we'll be in Denver at least for a while more, I am really trying to learn how to garden in this climate. I was very, very spoiled in Arkansas where you stick a seed in the ground and it grows. You actually have to work pretty hard at it here! The kids are very excited about our garden this year though, and have taken a very active part in it. I think that is really exciting. You can't really get more local than growing your own food!

On the 100 Mile website, they have a lot of interesting information. One is a list of ten things you can do. I swiped these ten things off their site. If you're interested in local eating, check out their site: The 100 Mile Diet.

1. Start small.
The people who did this experiment jumped in with both feet without a lot of forethought or planning. It was challenging for them. Considering I have a family to feed - I think we'll take it a step at a time! Our first step was to sign up with a local CSA. Starting in mid-June and going through mid-December, we'll get a box of veggies every week. For a good chunk of that time, we'll also get a fruit box. We may be getting our eggs through them as well - I haven't gotten that nailed down yet though.

2. There are no rules.
Considering that Colorado is pretty limited because of it's climate, we're not actually trying to limit it to a 100 mile radius. Actually, our fruit is coming from the western side of the state. I'm okay with that. One of the questions they ask is, "Ask some deeper questions, too. If you eat meat, where does the feed for the animals come from? If you’re vegetarian, would you be prepared to eat animal products if no beans or tofu are raised where you live?" Well, that question is easy. No. I know a lot of people seem to be moving toward the belief that if beef is "humanely" raised then it's okay to eat and okay for the environment. First, I can't really label the unnecessary slaughter of anything "humane." I will say that it is certainly "less cruel." So, from an animal rights standpoint, it's a step in the right direction. As for the environment though, it's a mixed bag. Conventional production includes feeding cows an artificial diet of grains, whereas "grass fed beef" is just that - meat from cows who have been allowed to graze. There also tend to be no added hormones and other chemicals in the cow products. A side that people tend to forget though is that in some ways "grass fed beef" is actually MORE energy intensive. The cows live longer, take more resources, and emit more greenhouse gases. I know that it's commonplace for global warming opponents to make fun of "cow farts," but 18% (yes - nearly one fifth) of greenhouse gases come from livestock. That is an outrageous number. Transportation of food only accounts for 11% of the foods' carbon footprint. I think that it would be irresponsible for a person to start consuming a product that would actually increase their carbon footprint in the name of "local eating."

3. Surf the internet.
I've been doing this a lot. So far, I've found that Colorado kills a lot of animals. I'm sure that as summer gets going though, I'll find other resources!

4. Find your farmers’ market.
This is a great tip for people who don't live here. The farmers' markets here - suck. Truly. You're just as likely to find produce from Washington or California as you are from local farms. I am going to make an effort to try and find a good farmers' market this year though. In all of the Denver metro area, there has got to be one. Right? This is the area that makes me really pine for Arkansas though. Man, the farmers' markets there are amazing!

5. Find your farmers.
I am really looking forward to this one this summer. We already plan to spend quite a bit of time at Berry Patch Farms. I grew up eating home canned and frozen foods. It's fabulous, and I want my children to experience that, too. Now, it's been quite a few years since I've canned anything, so this year will be quite the learning experience I'm sure. That's okay though. The kiddos are already looking forward to bringing home produce from Berry Patch Farms and preserving it at home.

6. Start a garden — even a tiny one.
Check. We're trying hard. There is nothing better to eat on the planet than a fresh out of the garden tomato or strawberry. Yum. I have big hopes for our garden this summer!

7. Plan a winter garden.
This one may be a little harder here in Denver, but I'm looking into it. At the very least, we're trying to grow some edible plants inside.

8. Buy in bulk and preserve.
Oh, well - I touched on this a bit. We are planning to do our own preserving. Having a family of soon to be 7, we already buy in bulk!

9. Join the movement.
Everyone and every change makes a difference. I don't think this means that everyone has to eat only local food. As I touched on earlier, sometimes local choices aren't as healthy for your body or the environment as things that come from farther away. I do think that being more aware of where our food comes from and trying to make responsible choices is something that everyone can do. We're trying to be more conscience of where our food comes from rather than just grabbing something off the shelf without paying attention. Hopefully, our efforts will make at least some difference!

1 comment:

mom said...

Very Very Good my dear, you said it very well. A step at a time will get the job done. I am trying to get my husband off meat again, but it is a slow job. First cleaning out all the meat in the frezzer is a start, then puting in fish is the next thing. He still loves his chicken, but I am slowy trying to get him to slow that down. We are off red meat and he never did miss it, funny right? A step at a time! Good luck honey you are doing a great job as I said before. And he is happy with what I put on the table, now staying healthy enough to cook a good meal is important to!