Google+ Organic Gardens Network™: 12 Steps to Becoming a Locavore

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

12 Steps to Becoming a Locavore

What is a Locavore and are you one? A Locavore is someone who endeavors to know where their food is grown. They also take steps to eat locally grown food as often as they can. This indeed is not an all-or-nothing undertaking. Learn how to support your local farmers and your local economy by following as many of the 12 steps as is reasonably possible for you and your family. You will be increasing the protective benefits to your health, as well as enjoying superbly delicious food when you eat from farmers in your local area.

1. Read The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. These books will help you develop a better picture of how your food ends up on the shelves at the grocery store.

2. Sign up for a user account on Locavore Network! This is a great reference site where you can locate farmers and farmers markets near you, including restaurants who use local ingredients. There are also state-specific forums, and you can find out what products are available throughout the year, and tips for selecting the best produce. You may also be invited by one of your local growers to join their "Spotlight group."

3. What does “local” mean to you? Many locavores begin by eating in the 100-mile radius from where they live. If you are truly rural, you may need to use a larger radius. The Locavore Network site will help you locate locally grown produce, meat, wine, restaurants, farmers markets and retail stores in your area.

4. Patronize your farmers markets. Farmers markets help small farmers stay in business. Rather than marketing their crops through a distributor, selling at a farmer's market allows the local growers to make a larger percentage of profit. Be certain you are buying from a true local farmer. If they are selling produce that is out of season for your area, that’s your clue that it was trucked in by a wholesaler.

5. Become familiar with the managers at your local grocery store and inquire where their produce and meat products originate. Let them know it is important to you and your family to have that local access to fresh organic, non-GMO foods.

6. Substitute foods in your pantry and frig for local foods. Do this over time as you become familiar with your local harvest. Learn what produce and other food products (dairy, poultry, etc.) are available throughout the year in your area so you can buy in season

7. Locate and learn about CSA programs in your area. CSAs are a group of farmers and a group of consumers (members). The members agree to buy shares in the farmer’s annual production, and the member benefits by having access to fresh in-season, organic and non-GMO foods.

8. Patronize area dining spots that support your local farms and use the local produce in their menu items. Help support your local farmers by also supporting the local business that buy from them.

9. Support your local economy by purchasing from local vendors. You can utilize the Locavore Network site to find locally produced sauces, seasonings, jams, jellies and many other food product created with locally grown ingredients.

10. Visit a local farm near you. Get to know the farmer and ask questions about how he grows his crops and then sends them to market. Ask if you can help out and you may be able to strike a barter for some of the farmer’s fresh produce.

11. Grow your own. This seems the most obvious step to becoming a Locavore, but not everyone is fortunate to have a patch of land to grow. However, you can grow smaller amounts in containers, in a window farm, or by joining a community garden plot. Eating from your own garden is the ultimate in becoming a Locavore.

12. Preserve local harvest to enjoy during the cold winter months. Check out Preserving Summer's Bounty: A Quick and Easy Guide to Freezing, Canning, and Preserving, and Drying What You Grow. Do the best you can and have fun with it.

What are some ways you work toward becoming a Locavore?

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