Saturday, March 20, 2010

Locavores

A ‘locavore’ is someone who eats food that grows in their local area.  The locavore movement is gaining quite a bit of momentum of late, especially in these days of concern about global warming, since food grown within a certain distance of where you are takes much less energy to transport than food grown on another continent and trekked half-way across the world so you can eat tomatoes in January.

I became much more interested in the locavore idea after reading Barbara Kingsolver’s wonderful Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which is the saga of her family’s year of growing as much of their own food as possible on their small farm in South Carolina.  Kingsolver’s farm already had several varieties of mature fruit trees, which added to their diet.  They also grew a huge vegetable garden with as many varieties of heirloom crops as they could find, as well as their own heritage turkeys, and chickens, which of course provided eggs.  They were surrounded by other small farmers from whom they were able to buy meats, honey, herbs, fruits, dairy, and veggies that they didn’t, or couldn’t, grow for themselves.  They did make some compromises.  They did buy flour from Vermont, and coffee.  But they did without bananas, which as far as I’m concerned, is heroic.

Locally grown food is fresh, only available in its natural season, and supports small, organic, and family farmers.  I know people who are religious locavores, and I greatly admire and want to emulate them.  But as of yet, all I’ve managed is good intentions.  I am much more aware of what I’m buying at the store, however, and I do find myself much more likely to pick produce from the bin that says “Locally Grown”.

I’ve never been a very successful gardener, though it certainly isn’t for lack of trying over the years.  I haven’t tried my hand at it for a long time, but after reading Kingsolver’s book, I was seriously considering giving it another go, in a small way.  We still have several deep bed plots in our yard that have gone unplanted for years.  Surely something would love to grow there. 

And then, last week, our yard guy brought a tomato plant he had left over and asked if we’d like to have it.  Yes, of course!  The sight of that lovely tomato all by itself in the corner deep bed inspired us to buy two more tomatoes, then a basil plant, some sage, French thyme, a pepper, a cabbage ... some rosemary and mint.

It’s March in Arizona, already in the upper 70s and low 80s. The flowers are rife and it’s time to get the garden going. Now, if all goes well, I’ll be a locavore myself by summer.

6 comments:

Marian Allen said...

We've had a garden since we moved to the country, and the farmers' market that's started in town recently has been a godsend! REALLY fresh is so good!

sweet-komal said...

I wish we had more farmers markets around me because I LOVE THEM there is one tomorrow though but thats only once a year I'm very excited about going!

Peach Blossom Hill said...

Our family, also in South Carolina, tries to be as much locavores as we can be! We have a fairly good sized vegetable garden and are still enjoying our frozen beans from last year. We grew sqash, beans, tomatoes, okra, and zuchini last year and this year will add pumpkins. My son is planning to major in Agriculture at Clemson University and this past week he and his Dad toured a 5,000 acre vegetable farm in our state capitol, Columbia, which provides all of the pre-packaged 'greens' for our local Walmart's under the brand name Fresh Green. The tractors that cultivate those plants are so highly sophisticated, not only do they have GPS navigational systems, they tell what the yield per acre will be, the moisture and acid content of the soil and other information as they move along the fields.

Jody

Donis Casey said...

Wow, you all are my heroines! And than goodness for farmers' markets.I hope everyone eventually has access to one. I wish the government would support small farmers in the same way it does agribusiness and huge monoculture farms.

Stephen Tremp said...

We're locavores to the best of our ability. We recently watched Food Inc. I may never eat another fast food burger gain.

Stephen Tremp

Dana Fredsti said...

I so love the concept of Locavore! We have several farmers markets in the area, as well as a few local produce stores that carry organic local stuff...