“Locavore” is a fairly new term that describes consumers who focus on eating locally grown and sourced food. The local food movement is something that has been popular amongst environmentally conscious consumers for decades, but only now is it becoming more of a mainstream concept – and with good reason.
What is “local”?
The word ‘local’ is broad in relation to food products. It can encompass anything grown and prepared within the province, city, or neighbourhood. Local food often brings to mind seasonal produce, but it also includes fruits and vegetables that are grown in greenhouses year-round; locally raised animal products like dairy, eggs, and meat; and specialty products like honey, preserves, wine, and nut butters.
What are the benefits of becoming a locavore?
Not only is this way of eating better for the environment, but it can have positive economic, nutritional, and community impacts as well.
- Reduced food miles: local products are often transported over shorter distances than those that are imported. This reduces use of fossil fuel energy, carbon emissions, and air pollution.
- Less farm-related pollution: smaller-scale farms produce less waste than large-scale factory operations.
- Sustainable land use: soil used for farming is unavailable for industrial or commercial development. This protects fertile farmland and maintains green space.
- Preserves genetic diversity: small-scale farms tend to plant a number of different crops and may raise a variety of animals. This encourages species diversity in comparison to large-scale monocultures.
- Money stays in the community: revenue from local food sales supports members of the community, rather than large-scale corporations. This money is then often reinvested in businesses and services within the local community.
- Jobs: local food production and sales provide sustainable employment opportunities for members of the community.
- Supports other local businesses: when local food is available, it can be used to support larger entities and to entice conscious consumers to establishments like restaurants, cafes, and school cafeterias.
- Nutrients are preserved: fresh ingredients are often more nutrient-rich than those that have been sitting for long periods during transportation and storage.
- Better taste: produce that is harvested and consumed within its natural season is more flavourful.
- More options: buying local often provides more opportunities to choose organic, pesticide-free, and preservative-free foods.
- Education: giving farmers in the community a platform promotes sharing of information about the food system. They can speak to how food is grown, raised, harvested, and/or prepared.
- Relationships: interactions between farmers and consumers foster positive community relationships. Farmer’s markets and urban gardens also provide a venue for members of the community to interact with each other, often contributing to the vibrancy of local culture.
- Food production accountability: consumers who seek out local food are more likely to take an interest in the food system and to demand high-quality, environmentally friendly farming practices.
- Consumer empowerment: consumers are able to vote with their dollar to support sustainable food.
Where can I find locally grown food?
Finding locally grown food is easier than you think! Here are some great places to start:
- Farmer’s markets
- Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs
- Grocery delivery programs
- Grocery stores that stock local products
- Restaurants and cafes that prepare locally sourced ingredients
- The farms themselves
- Urban gardens
- Your own backyard!
Looking to add more local food to your diet? Summer is the perfect time to check out a farmer’s market near you. Check out the links below to get started!
In British Columbia: https://bcfarmersmarkettrail.com/
In Alberta: http://www.albertafarmersmarket.com/markets/