A locavore is someone who eats local food. Usually this is purchased from farmers markets, but thanks to a massive increase in consumption (The USDA estimates that local food sales have grown from from about $5 billion in 2008 to $11.7 billion in 2014), more and more grocery stores and major chains are beginning to offer local food options as well! This article talks about the rise of the locavore, and programs that have enabled the local food movement to expand beyond granola eating yuppies.
“Ok, but what does this have to do with charity?”
Ask anyone what the main threats to our planet and our health are, and you’ll hear some issues pop up again and again. It’s well-established that climate change is threatening our ecosystem and our way of life (just ask California), so countless people have put ‘dangerous carbon emissions’ pretty high up on the things-to-worry-about list regarding our little blue and green marble of a planet.
As far as our health in America, obesity and the health impacts associated with it are causing huge negative effects on our hearts, blood pressure, and hospital bills. And despite more and more Americans shelling out memberships for gyms every year, the numbers keep growing… arguably because the food that we eat is slowly poisoning our bodies, even the food marketed as “healthy.” These seem like pretty overwhelming issues, certainly. How can you, one person, combat climate change, or make our country healthier? Especially when these problems are so different, and seemingly unrelated.
The good news is, small choices and small changes can really add up. And there is one small change that helps both combat climate change and promote better health! Enter: The Locavores.
The shift to local eating has a two-fold impact. First, eating local food is MUCH better for the environment. Agribusiness, even more so than transportation, is largely responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions making California thirsty while the rest of us endure dramatic and dangerous new weather patterns. Translation: producing and transporting all that meat, dairy and produce is making Mother Earth very sick. By eating local foods as often as possible, you are not only helping to minimize your personal carbon footprint, but your dollars are going into the corporation’s jar marked “customers who want us to be environmentally conscious” and that leads to major changes!
This lays the concept out pretty well, as they point out that farmers market sales are peaking. It’s not necessarily bad if the farmers markets are being replaced with those same farmer’s food on grocery store shelves (spoiler alert: they are).
It also is helping to improve the health of our local economies, and our bodies. Eating local, fresh, healthy food grown on smaller family farms is generally better for you than anything from the grocery store that comes wrapped in plastic. And thanks to the growing popularity of locavore habits, access to healthy local food is getting easier for everyone.. many farmers markets now accept SNAP dollars! (SNAP dollars are the new name for what most people still refer to as food stamps).
By making the decision to switch even just a few purchases from who-the heck-knows-where-this-came-from to the-family-down-the-street-grew-this-for-me-to-eat, you are able to start making small changes that lead to bigger changes that make you, your community, and the planet healthier and happier.
Are you a wanna-be locavore but don’t know where to start? The USDA has a list of farmers markets with a search function by zip code! http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/