Locavore Alternatives

So as I walked through the Whole Foods here in Nashville, I was stoked to see so much local produce…. from California. It took me a little while to realize that I was in Tennessee and produce from California was no longer “local”. I spent some time looking for the local Tennessee produce and what I realized is that they only have “regional” products here in Nashville. What? Georgia is not Tennessee. They’re closer than California and Tennessee but how am I supposed to eat locally grown produce when there are no options!

This spurred a realization: I have not been telling ya’ll (yeah I said it) about how to shop if you do not live in a state (or country) where the produce is fresh and local. So, stumped, I thought I would just tell you to go to your local farmers markets. Those occur in most cities… but what if you’re living far away from a city? Then your own car travel would be adding to those nasty food miles! And farmers markets happen as few as one times a week! What if you really need peaches for that delicious peach pie you’ve been waiting to make all year and the farmers market isn’t for another six days?

Therefore, I have done some research into alternatives to the locavore diet:

  • If you can’t find it local, definitely buy it organic. Sometimes local products are not organic because the small farmers cannot afford to get their produce checked by the USDA. They may be using organic practices though. But if you can’t find it local (and potentially unorganic) then really do buy it organically. Organic means no pesticides (which are made with fossil fuels and lead to increased greenhouse gases and the pollution of water sources).
  • Join a CSA. This means Community Supported Agriculture and here is some info about how it works. Basically you get yummy produce around once a week from a local farmer. They may not be the produce you’re looking for, but how fun is this idea? And you get to try new things!
  • All produce in the US must now follow COOL: Country of Origin Labeling. This means that when you’re at your grocery store you can figure out which products are coming to you from America and which have been shipped halfway around the world. Therefore, you can pick the produce with less food miles attached to it. Some stores, like Whole Foods, also label based on state making this even easier!
  • This site shows the farmers’ markets, farms, and sources of sustainably produced foods closest to you. Even if you don’t think you have any you’ll be surprised.

Basically just do your best. As I’ve stated it’s not about changing your ways completely (in this case moving closer to local produce). It’s about doing what you can. So if you can’t find local or organic produce, cut back on the meat and fish. It’ll make the same eco-positive effect. And I will definitely try to be more aware of the fact that you don’t all live in CA next to fresh local produce. For some of you, “regional” produce is just fine.

3 responses to “Locavore Alternatives

  1. It’s true that California is amazing. I hope that you can find some other sources. My CSA does a really good job of keeping us in veggies all week but fruit is another story.

  2. locavoreinthecity

    Thanks for this info. All great tips! I also struggle with what to “prioritize” when it comes to my consumption. I am largely local (thanks to a great farmer’s market, and a meat and veggie CSA) but I wonder if I would be better off buying less local organic strawberries versus the very local pick-your-own field that uses pesticides. It comes down to carbon footprint vs. toxic footprint. Not to mention the added element of wanting to support the local economy and small farms. Not an easy choice!

  3. I think the best way to choose between local and organic (if your local farms don’t practice any organic procedures–>which you find out by asking) is to switch off between the two. That way sometimes you’re helping to stop pollutants and other times you’re cutting back on food miles.

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