Eating locally isn’t just a fad diet or a trend. On the contrary, global, mega-farm sourcing for nearly all of our foods is a relatively new practice. It wasn’t long ago that citrus, coffee and avocados were treats to be savored rather than kitchen staples. Those concerned with the environment, survival of small family farms and food freshness are embracing a local diet that supports their values. As we return to the common-sense practice of sourcing food locally whenever possible, it helps to have some tools and tips on hand for navigating the road to locavorism. After all, while our ancestors ate locally because that was the norm, it takes more effort for modern-day Americans to be involved with their food supply and stay committed to local foods.
#1: Know why you want to eat locally.
You will encounter those who disagree, so be prepared to explain why you have decided to eat more local foods. Perhaps it’s the pollution associated with “food miles” or simply the superior taste of produce eaten within hours of harvest. Whatever the reason, keep it in mind both for self-motivation and explaining to curious lunch-mates.
#2: Define what you consider local
Local means something different to everyone: 100 miles, MN grown, regionally produced, etc. Choose where you want to source your food and become familiar with what is grown locally. Don’t forget the importance of supporting local food processors and restaurants. Our local food system includes more than just farmers!
#3: Find a community
Eating locally by yourself can get lonely. Seek out fellow locavores to share recipes, favorite farms and insight into the art of eating locally. Networks abound online—check out the resource list. And don’t be too shy to approach fellow shoppers at your local co-op or farmer’s markets!
#4: Choose some simple “busy night meals”
We all have nights when we want to forget our values and order some greasy (non-local) pizza. Plan a couple of meals that are simple to prepare and keep the ingredients on hand at all times. Cook and freeze some Whole Grain Milling Co. black beans for quick tacos or never let your omelet-ready Schultz organic eggs run out.
#5: Don’t worry if you’re not 100% local
Nobody’s perfect and eating an avocado won’t undo all the good you’ve done with your locally grown meals. Choose a goal for how local you want to eat. Find a balance between sourcing local foods and allowing yourself some non-local indulgences.
The Minnesota Table: Recipes for savoring local food throughout the year, by Shelley N.C. Holl and B.J. Carpenter, Voyageur Press, 2010.
Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Food, by Dr. Gary Paul Nabhan, W.W. Norton, 2009.
Find a co-op near you at coopdirectory.org
Mississippi Market Co-op
St. Paul, MN, msmarket.coop
St. Paul, MN, goldenfig.com