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.