I was reading the latest edition of my favourite book on nutrition..., when this term “LOCAVORE” drew my attention. Following which, i found myself exploring this food-habit which is not only healthy but eco-friendly too. It took about four months for me to turn ‘half-locavore’ and of course, the experience has been overwhelming.
Chosen as “Word of the Year-2007”by New Oxford English Dictionary, the term was coined by Jessica Prentice in 2005. It describes people who resort to eating foods that are grown locally. Here, local is defined as anything that grows within 100 miles area of ones place of dwell. Those who live in remote areas, may expand their definition to include vegetables, fruits, eggs, non-veg., milk and milk products, fish and other food products that come from farms within 250 miles radius.
The most amazing fact about being a locavore is that all aspects of food production and consumption..., beginning from a farm where it is grown till it reaches the plate..., are benefitted.
· Economic benefits:
The concept of ‘Farmers Market’ illustrates purchase of locally grown food directly from farmers and local vendors, without any focus on packaging, transport and preservation of food.., it is just grown, harvested and sold..! It also helps the local economy, as in the absence of cost of transportation, processing, packaging and marketing.., farmer gets the entire retail value of money spent on food.
· Health benefits:
Fresh, locally grown foods tend to be safer and taste better. Smaller farms produce more variety of seasonal, indigenous foods with lesser added chemicals as compared to commercial lands that produce gallons of food to be transported thousands of miles away. Meat, eggs, milk and milk products are from animals that are pasture-fed and raised in a natural environment. Typically, all the products are produced and processed at a smaller scale without affecting their natural composition to a considerable extent.
· Environmental benefits:
The locavore movement eventually conserves the amount of fuel and cuts down on levels of soil pollution, air pollution and green house gas emission required for an imported/exotic food product to reach our plate from the farm it is produced in. All these factors ultimately help in reducing global warming and conserving the natural biodiversity.
Challenges of being a Locavore...
Changing the habit of easily picking up foods of choice that are ready to use, from the shelves of highly convenient super-markets to procuring them from local vendors and farmer markets where they require some pre-preparation and storage work to be done.., does pose a challenge. Another hurdle is availability in a limited number at a time, which calls for grocery shopping more than once per week.
And then, there are certain products of regular use like coffee, tea, some spices and nuts etc that cannot be produced locally..?
Thinking of all these challenges.., i said (in the beginning of blog) i am a ‘half-locavore’..!!
Localise The Locavore...
To me, an important aspect of going locavore is also eating seasonal food products and avoiding preserved or non-seasonal ones. For the above mentioned challenges and many others that one comes across when choosing to be a locavore.., here are the suggestive and easy solutions...
· Go seasonal:
Prefer including only seasonal varieties of fruits and vegetables as an in-season harvest doesn’t travel too long to reach you.
· Say NO to exotic varieties:
Instead of buying kiwis, blueberries and raspberries, make bananas, watermelons, musk melons, pears etc a part of your fruit basket.
· Avoid canned foods:
You might think that they are pre-cooked, safely packed and ready to eat.., but there are huge amount of chemicals added and fuels utilised in making it what it is.
· Support local vendors, growers and farmers:
Create a small community (may be of your residential society) that does most of the purchase from an identified local farm or vendor.
Create your own ideas of adapting to the ‘Locavore Movement’ and make sure you stick to it. As, back in time, we were all locavore and ate whatever was available as a gift from Mother Earth. Always remember, ‘To have something to eat is in itself a blessing.’
By Pooja Lakhani Health coach at LNF