By Morgan Dolan
We have all heard of vegetarians, vegans, and those who only eat fruit that falls off of a tree. There is always a “why” behind their food choices – indeed, it seems that the decisions we make about our diets are inherently linked to beliefs that we have about food and the world we live in.
So where do so-called locavores fit into all that?
A locavore is typically someone who either exclusively or primarily eats foods from their own local or regional foodshed (traditionally within a 100-150 mile radius of home).
As a movement, locavorism advocates a preference for local products for a variety of reasons, including:
- Local products travel a much less distance to the consumer, therefore using less fuel and generating less pollution
- The shorter distribution chains also allow for less product wasted during distribution, storage, and merchandising
- Local products are fresher, healthier, and use easy-to-recognize ingredients
- Local products encourage diversification of local agriculture and recirculation of monetary capital within local economies
- Local products also encourage the consumption of organic, GMO-free, and lab-manufactured chemical-free products
The good news is that you don’t need to “be” a locavore (or “be” anything) to acknowledge the benefits of a locavore lifestyle. You don’t need to give up imported cheese, wine, or start fanatically hunting down the origins of every product or consumable in your household.
To acknowledge the benefits of purchasing food and goods from your region or foodshed means that you think about how, prior to WWII, nearly two out of five Americans lived on farms. Food was much more locally grown and marketed. Rarely was food transported further than a day’s distance. After WWII our infrastructure expanded greatly, transportation costs decreased and refrigeration became more accessible. These changes allowed meats, produce, and other commercial products to be transported greater distances at competitive prices.
To think about how food lands on our tables, in our pantries, or how products come to be in our houses, means that we need to look at where we choose to shop. Recent trends in areas that were once vibrant and productive farmlands show that consumers are more and more often heading to supercenters like Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, and Meijer’s for shopping. Convenience and low prices are the draw but this trend starves the local demand for local food and products. Products in these big box stores are primarily imported from countries with low production costs – and the current business model specifically strives to keep them low.
You don’t need to “be” a locavore to conscious of where your dollars are going and what you are choosing to pay for. Furthermore you wouldn’t be alone: Nearly 80% of respondents in a 2006 national survey said they occasionally to always purchased fresh produce directly from growers.
This increased demand is creating opportunities for farmers and growers to expand their marketing channels. Local foods are being sold through farmer’s markets, roadside stands, winter markets, food co-ops, CSAs (community supported agricultural groups), supermarkets, specialty stores, restaurants, hospitals, schools, and more. CSAs increased from 60 in 1990 to 1150 in 2007. In a similar period, farmers markets went from 1500 to over 4500.
We at the General Store want you to be yourself. Rather than asking you to “be” a locavore, we would rather you just take a minute to think about where your money goes and what it supports. We are trying to bring more and more people’s daily needs under one roof so that you will be able to shop at one place, to get everything you need, and support the Pacific Northwest at the same time.
“The Growing Locavore Movement: A Ripe Opportunity.” 2012. 4 Nov. 2014 <http://geometrx.com/2012/05/the-growing-locavore-movement-a-ripe-opportunity/>
Martinez, Steve. Local food systems; concepts, impacts, and issues. Diane Publishing, 2010.
“Plenty Magazine – Environmental News and Commentary.” 2009. 4 Nov. 2014 <http://www.plentymag.com/blogs/ecoeats/2009/01/some_interesting_locavore_stat_print.php>