Your 15 Step Guide for Becoming a Locavore
Locavore Fruits and VegetablesLocavores are people who make a serious effort to understand where their food comes from, and then make the effort to eat locally produced food as much as possible. This certainly does not have to be an all-or-nothing venture. Following our "15 Step Program " will help support your local small farmers as well as your local economy. The added benefits of protecting your family's health and discovering the fabulous flavor of locally grown produce are merely "icing on the cake".
1) Buy a copy of Barbara Kingsolver's book entitled Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life and also Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. These will help you gain a better perspective of food outside your supermarket's shelf and what is involved before it gets there.
2) Sign up as a user on Locavorenetwork! You can find local growers, restaurants, stores, and farmers markets near you by using the search box located in the upper right hand corner of your screen. Additionally, you can participate in a forum specific to your state, find what product is available and when, find selection tips for choosing the best fruits and vegetables, and if you are lucky,a grower close to you will invite you to join their "Spotlight group".
3) Determine exactly what "local" means for you. There really is no hard and fast definition of what comprises a "food-shed", obviously someone living in central California can make different choices than someone living in the mountains of Montana. Many locavores start by trying to eat within a 100-mile radius of their homes, but depending upon where you live you may need to include a much larger area. The important thing is to become conscious of your food's origin. To locate locally grown produce, meat, wine, restaurants, farmers markets or retail stores close to you, enter any combination of terms into our search box located in the upper right hand corner of the screen.
4) Visit a farmers' market. Farmers' markets are one method of marketing and sales that help keep small farms 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. The caveat here is to be sure you are actually buying from a true farmers market. If you are at a fruit stand in Minnesota that is offering bananas, or cantaloupe and corn in the winter, they are simply buying produce from a wholesale distributor..unfortunately these are often the most un-safe of places to buy fresh produce. Want to find a market near you? Use the search box in in the upper right hand corner of your screen.
5) Get to know the store manager, produce manager or meat manager at your supermarket, and ask them where their produce is grown or where their meat comes from. Let the staff at your grocery store know what's important to you!
6) Identify and choose foods in your house that you can buy locally. Rather than trying to make a huge change in your diet or shopping pattern all at one time, try choosing just one or two locally grown ingredients for each meal. Our availability guides show you what fresh produce is generally available (and when) in each state. Every State has a growing season that provides fresh fruits and vegetables as well as cheeses, wines, milk, eggs and poultry - all grown, harvested or produced close to your home.
7) Find a local CSA here on LocavoreNetwork and sign-up! If there are none close to you, post an ad in our Classified Ads section or in your State's forum. A CSA is typically comprised of one or more producers and a group of consumers. The producer(s) agrees to provide produce (vegetables, fruit, meat, flowers, etc.) to the consumers who have purchased a share in the CSA. The cost of a share is a portion of the farmer's cost of production plus a living wage. As an example, if the cost of production is estimated at $20,000 and the living wage is estimated to be $25,000, then a share in a CSA with 150 members would be $300. In return, each CSA member receives 1/150 of the year's production in the form of a weekly share of the harvest.
8) Dine at restaurants that support local farmers. Ask your favorite restaurant about their ingredients, or ask your favorite farmers what restaurant accounts they sell product to. Be sure to support the businesses that support your local farmers.
9) Buy from local vendors. If you are having difficulty finding products that are locally grown, how about "locally produced"? Every state and many counties within the state have a regional food specialty that is produced locally. Using the search functionality on Locavore Network, you can find locally produced sauces, seasonings, jams, jellies and many other food product created with locally grown ingredients. Purchasing these products helps support the local economy.
10) Ask about origins. If you've found that one of your favorite foods is not locally grown, find out where it is from. Contact the producer or manufacturer to inquire about where the ingredients are from and let them know that you value locally grown and produced products.
11) Host a "Local" Easter or Thanksgiving by making a dish or an entire meal from locally grown or produced foods. Go one step further an host a "Local" Sunday meal for your friends, and invite the grower(s) to join you.
12) Get to know your local County Extension Agent. They are a wealth of information on local agriculture, know the local growers, and are a fantastic resource for your gardening questions. To find an office close to you, go to the State Information menu at the top of the page, scroll to your State and open the page. Each State specific page has the link to County Extension locations and contact information.
13) Visit a farm. Locate a farm near you via a search here on Locavore Network. Contact the farmer to see if they would be willing to let you visit them. If time allows, many farmers are happy to show a family or a group around their farm. When you visit, ask the farmers what challenges they have had and how they market theur product. Find out what areas they might need help with and if there is anything you or your network might be able to help them with.
14) Grow your own. The ultimate Locavore concept is to eat product from your own garden. if you don't have room for a traditional garden, consider container gardening, square foot gardening, community gardening or growing vegetables hydroponically. Find more information and links by clicking on the hyperlink at the beginning of this paragraph.
15) Preserve a local food for the winter. Once the harvest season is drawing to a close, to help you get through the winter, try your hand at the art of preserving by making applesauce, apple butter, etc. One of the websites we really like for tips on preserving food is at Preserve Food.