I realized after writing my first article that some of you may not have heard the term locavore before. Based on the terms herbivore (eats plants), carnivore (eats meat) and omnivore (eats both)…a locavore eats “local”. The term was coined in 2005 by Jessica Prentice, a chef and writer. Most locavores define “local” as anything grown or produced within 100 miles of your home. People in more remote areas may extend this range to 250 miles.
There are many reasons to become a locavore. The health benefits of eating food produced close to your home are numerous. Locally grown food is more likely to be raised without chemicals which contribute to soil and water pollution as well as cause illness to humans and animals. Food raised locally can also be ripened naturally and picked fresh. The environmental factors include decreased fuel costs and greenhouse emissions when food is not being shipped thousands of miles.
True purists will not consume anything that is produced outside their 100 mile radius. Other locavores will purchase items that are truly impossible to raise within the 100 mile radius from local vendors either as organic or fair trade items. Some things that might fall into this category are: olive oil, coffee, tea and grains.
I have to say that eating local is not for sissies. The easiest meal that I made this week was pancakes and eggs. But you have to realize what this simple meal looks like to a locavore; haul feed and water to our hens twice a day for 365 days of the year, gather eggs, wash eggs, make a 25 mile round trip for raw milk….and we won’t get into finding a source of local flour or making syrup. In fact, I have a confession to make; we’re cheating!
When we decided to try locavorism, we just couldn’t go cold turkey, there was just too much non-local food in our cupboards. After all, no sane person could just throw out bags of whole wheat and unbleached flour, stock piled condiments, and those great 10 for $10 specials that we bought to get the gas perks. There was also that case of peanut butter that we bought when the prices threatened to sky rocket in October. And what about all the sugar and chocolate chips left over from Christmas baking…oh, perish the thought!
We decided that our goal was to eat what was in our house and as the food was used, attempt to replace it with local items, make our own version or learn to live without it. We had already been practicing being USA-avores…no more Chilean grapes or Columbian bananas or Mexican peppers…next we worked on being East Coast-avores…no California strawberries, lettuce or orange juice. Becoming locavores was just the next step.
I must confess that this week hasn’t been too difficult. We had plenty of food choices and lots of fun experimenting with raw milk. We made cheese, yogurt, butter and ice cream. We started growing sprouts again for salad greens and made homemade noodles. Our stockpile of store bought goods helps round out the items in our larder very nicely. So we really didn’t even feel tempted to buy anything at the store….until Saturday.
Our only crisis this week involved being responsible for the ice cream for two of our grandchildren’s birthdays. We picked up milk Friday eve, skimmed the cream Saturday morning and looked up some easy recipes. The 5 minute strawberry ice cream turned out amazingly fast and easy. The vanilla just sat in the freezer like a wet puddle. At the last minute, we abandoned the vanilla and headed to the store for Moose Tracks – we certainly couldn’t let the kids down because we hadn’t started soon enough. By the time we arrived home, the vanilla was ice cream, which we served for Home Group on Sunday. It was delicious!! Lesson #1- being a locavore takes time.
Until next week,
Paula J. Cornmesser
Big Oak Ridge