Skip to content

Becoming a “Locavore”

March 4, 2010

At the Farmers’ Market this weekend, I was talking to one of the regulars about his diet. He said he was a “localvore”, a term I hadn’t heard before.  Though I grab a loaf of bread and some apples from time to time, I never used to do the bulk of my shopping at the Farmers’ Market- I don’t get to call myself a locavore. Why not?


First of all, what is a locavore?

Locavore (the officially dictionary term, also known as “localvore”) is a way of eating within your own community, promoting the local economy, protecting the environment, and eating food at it’s peak of flavor and nutrition. The term was advertised in a June 2006 issue of time magazine. The article, “The Lure of the 100 Mile Diet” described a month long local food challenge where all food comes from a 100 mile radius for one entire month. More on that here.

image [1]

Why would I avoid foods from afar?

Foods from the supermarket have often been shipped as far as 1,500 miles to make it into your grocery cart. The pink lady apples on special this week at my market are from Chile. The catfish from Asia, the grass fed beef from Iowa, and even the winter squash were from afar. When produce is picked from the tree, ground, or vine the nutrients immediately begin to deplete. Julie from Savvy Eats talked about this in her brain food post yesterday. She pointed out that produce frozen fresh can have as much as 60% more nutrients than “fresh” fruits or vegetables that are consumed much longer after they’re picked.

As fresh food ages, the flavor and texture is also lost. Have you ever tried to snap a two week old carrot? How about bite into a mealy apple? To prevent the rapid deterioration of produce, many industrial farms genetically modify their plants or breed long lasting produce, trading off nutrition in the process.

Produce of ANY kind is good for the body, mind and soul. You will never hear me say “because the apple isn’t local or isn’t organic it isn’t nutritious.” Local food may be more nutritious or flavorful, but it isn’t the only way to eat.

How does one become a locavore?

One step at a time. Search for a Farmers’ Market in your region, look for a co-op that supports local agriculture and search your zip code to find a local CSA participating farm. (More on that in another post!)

Start slowly. Farmers’ markets can be more expensive than super markets, but if you cut back on processed food and replace it with produce your grocery bill will even out. Replace a few things you buy weekly, like apples and milk, with local apples and milk. Reduce how much you buy from afar and increase what you bring home from the Farmers’ Market. Before you know it, you’ll be able to skip the grocery store for weeks at a time!

image [2]

Local or organic?

Because organic food is grown without synthetic fertilizers it is often more nutritious. Organic food also has the benefits of being healthier for the planet, and keeping toxins out of what you eat (in the form of pesticides.) But if you must choose between local food and organic food, I personally prefer local.

It’s more sustainable to eat within your own community and many smaller farms just haven’t filled out the USDA organic paperwork. If you’re concerned about the fertilizers and pesticides used, you can always ask the farmer at the Farmers’ Market: another benefit.

Is there a happy medium?

Yes! If you enjoy pineapple, go ahead and buy that pineapple! Don’t cut back on produce consumption just because you can’t find it locally, just try to shift to eating food that’s in season. When I was talking to Becca, she told me her favorite food was blueberries. But she refuses to buy them when they’re not in season because the taste is so compromised. Making efforts to “shift” your produce intake from grocery store to Farmers’ Market, from imported to seasonal can benefit your health and surely your taste buds!

But, as a future food scientist I certainly believe there is a place for food science! Food science can teach you how to enhance nature’s flavors, or how to make the nutrition most accessible. It can teach you what fruits can replace each other in recipes, or how to freeze vegetables correctly. I think even reductionist science has a place. (more on this in another post.)

image [3]

I plan on doing much more of my shopping at the Farmers’ Market every week and beginning a CSA subscription soon. There is something to be said about the enjoyment of fresh food right from the source. The apple farmer at my Farmers’ Market cuts each variety open so everyone can taste to find exactly what they want. The garlic I bought this week is so aromatic and flavorful that I have to keep it in a separate cabinet. In my personal opinion, knowing the farmer makes all their food more enjoyable.

1 [source]

2 [source]

3 [source]

Resource Center:

CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Search

Farmers’ Market Search

In Season Produce

100 Mile Diet

The Original Locavore Page

More about local food in the NY Times

[Edited to add] Savvy Eat’s Top Five Reasons To Buy Local


How about you? Have you ever eaten local food? Does you community have a Farmers’ Market? Do you think it’s worth the extra $.25- $.50/ lb to support sustainability?

24 Comments leave one →
  1. March 4, 2010 8:16 am

    I try to eat local. I go to the farmers market in season, and buy special produce from WF from time to time. I try to aim for local meat, and even have found some local peanut butter and what not

  2. March 4, 2010 8:36 am

    We have a few farmers markets around here, but we do have a local farm that has a nice little shop that sells tons of produce. I do like to do there the best!

  3. March 4, 2010 8:56 am

    Oh my goodness, your brain is loaded with info!

  4. March 4, 2010 9:07 am

    I really wish I ate more locally. I get most things from WF when I’m at boarding school as there is no regular farmer’s market. Sad to say a lot of it isn’t local. At home (California and the Philippines) I get 80-ish percent (give or take) of my stuff local 😉 Hopefully that ‘makes up’ for all the miles over the school year? ah….well I try. D:

  5. March 4, 2010 9:49 am

    I actually work at a local farm. This family started by growing peaches a LONG time ago and it’s turned into a successful business – they have peaches, strawberries, and tons of other fruits and veggies. They also sell other local farmer’s produce, raw local milk, raw cheese, etc. I work there in the summer (the store part of their farm is only open from April – Sept or so) and I’m in food heaven in those months. I do get a discount by working there but I buy almost all of my produce from there. It’s SO amazing how much of a different taste it has, being local. And supporting your local farmers is such a great thing to do. Every little thing can make a huge difference!

  6. March 4, 2010 10:02 am

    I try and eat as locally and in season as I can. Not only is it more economical but I get to make sure that I eat wide varaties of things all year round, instead of sticking to my favorites (cantalope anyone ;))

  7. March 4, 2010 10:43 am

    I looooved getting a CSA delivery last summer, and had such a blast discovering new kinds of produce that I had never even seen before! You will love it!

  8. March 4, 2010 10:45 am

    AH so jealous you got to go to the farmers market!! I love buying local and the idea of sustainability. I used to wake up all summer long at 6am on Saturdays just go get my goods at the farmers market. It was something I used to do with my parents, and now that I am in college, I find it is a guilty pleasure and I go alone. I love going with an open mind and just see what ends up in my bags. There is also NOTHING like the home made baked goods I find there. Grocery stores just can not compare!

  9. March 4, 2010 11:14 am

    Great blog. I am fortunate to live in AZ and have a year-round CSA here. I eat locally for about 14 of 21 meals each week. And there are amazing stats in terms of what we’d save in oil consumption if the average American ate just one per week. Thanks for the topic – I think you covered it really well.

  10. March 4, 2010 11:30 am

    Hey, just came across your blog, love it!!

    This post was so eye-opening. I wish I could eat more locally, but in many cases the produce here isn’t really that great, but I try to do it as much as I can.


  11. March 4, 2010 11:32 am

    What a great post! I love that chart (saved it). I’ve been really trying to eat more in season, but it’s funny how your body kind of does it anyway. I definitely crave different things, which tend to be in season, at different times of the year.

  12. March 4, 2010 11:34 am

    Thanks for the link love, dear! I know Ithaca has a great Farmer’s Market, so you can go there if you go to Cornell. *Cough Cough* 😉

    In fact, one of the first things I did when we started talking about moving to Ithaca was make sure they had a good Farmer’s Market. It isn’t quite up to par with Madison’s, but it is pretty darn good! In the spring, summer, and fall, I get probably 90% of my produce from the Farmer’s Market… since the farmer’s market here is so big, I can get pretty good deals, and it is actually about 1/2 the price of the grocery store!

  13. March 4, 2010 11:46 am

    I love this! So much great info and your enthusiasm for this topic really shines through. The crazy thing is, even though I live in a very rural and agricultural area, commodities like farmer’s markets are more difficult to find because–sadly–the demographic has no demand for such things because of lack of info and the cheapness (it’s a poor area) of processed food. I’m going to go scout out those sites anyway, and maybe I’ll find something I didn’t know existed.

    P.S. Your description of crisp apples and aromatic garlic made my mouth water…and I can totally relate to the mealy fruit and limp carrots (that’s my fridge!) I’m craving some of that fresh stuff!

  14. March 4, 2010 12:12 pm

    wow great info girl!! i love what you shared!
    i WISH i had more/better access to foods here! i just dont have time!

  15. March 4, 2010 6:04 pm

    Mae- this is an awesome, informative post! I love that you list your sources at the bottom. Like you said, I refuse to eat blueberries unless they’re in season. I feel the same way about a lot of other fruits and veggies too. It’s not just because they don’t taste as good. I also love supporting local farms and businesses. That’s why I only shop at the co-op now. Speaking of the co-op. We need to hang out again soon! When’s the next time you’re free?!?

  16. March 4, 2010 7:44 pm

    I do try to eat local because I think it’s better for both myself and the world (how about that??), but it gets a little harder in winter here because all the farmer’s markets close down! I always look forward to the first spring markets. 🙂

  17. March 4, 2010 8:30 pm

    Great post! In the summer, we do all of our produce shopping at a farm down he road from our house. Everything is so fresh and delicious! In the winter, though, I’m a grocery store rat. Everything comes from there!

  18. March 5, 2010 3:38 am

    I am pro locavorism. I try to go to the FM every weekend I can!

  19. March 5, 2010 3:53 am

    There is a market where I just moved, and I can’t wait to go visit when the weather is nicer. I visit my brother in Portland where they have huge farmer’s markets. They are amazing! The food tastes better, even if it’s just a completely mental idea…

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! Glad you liked it. To answer your question, I’m working towards being a sales rep for Kraft, so literally I just go from store to store and complete whatever they need… and order cookies and crackers (all Nabisco). It is SO HARD to stay healthy being temped all day, every day!!

  20. March 5, 2010 8:21 am

    We have a really nice farmer’s market in our area and I am fortunate enough to live close to several local farms that we can get produce and meat. My husband is a meat eater and I am a newbie vegan – just started the 21 day vegan kickstart after get some test results back that were a little scary! This is a very informative post and only strengthens my resolve to do better.

  21. March 5, 2010 1:53 pm

    I try very hard to be a “localvore” ad would LOVE to do the 100 mile experiment! Living in Washington state has made me realize that I can find so much produce and other food items. While shopping at the supermarket I look for the local tags – I would much rather pay a few extra cents knowing that I am helping my community, and surrounding ones.

  22. March 5, 2010 10:36 pm

    Goose Island Brewery in Chicago just jumped on the “locavore” bandwagon with their Green Line Pale Ale. It’s made with sustainable brewing techniques, is only available on tap and in the Chicago area, and is basically just 100 percent local. I know this means nothing to you because you’re not from around here, but isn’t it great to know that even BEER is going local?


  1. Mid-Week Measurements | Nourished Fitness
  2. Top Five Reasons to Buy Local — Savvy Eats

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: