How to be a locavore

What’s a locavore?  The word was the 2007 New Oxford American Dictionary’s word of the year, and it means someone that eats foods produced locally.  And there are some that think it’s a big deal to do so in today’s world.

I think it’s a good thing.  The idea is to eat foods that are mainly grown with a certain distance from where you live, like 100 miles.  There’s even a local grocery in Dayton, Ohio, that has foods that are within 250 miles of the store, which is great for a market to do.

Blueberries at the Farmers Market

The push behind this is that we’ve done a lot of our food is grown and processed for convenience and with the shipping times and methods in mind.  This means picking things upripe, processing in quantities that provide economies of scale, spending a lot of time and money transporting from huge farms or processing centers to markets, and so on.

One of the advantages I see in being a locavore, over and above the “I’m doing something good for the planet” part (which is actually somewhat debatable) is that I get to talk to the people that produced the food that I’m going to eat.  I buy eggs from a farm about 10 miles away, and I’ve seen the chickens that lay those eggs.  I go to a farmers’ market, and I get to talk to the farmers that brought in their meats and produce to sell.  There’s something about that personal interaction that makes me feel good about the foods I’m eating then.

Berryhill Chickens

There are many ways to start becoming a locavore, but I think the easiest is to find a farmers’ market.  In Ohio, we have a vast variety, from small towns to large city markets.  And don’t avoid the small town markets; I found the best blackberries I’ve ever had out at a tiny town’s Thursday evening farmer’s market.  There were only 6 booths there, but these blackberries were incredible!  Which brings up another point about being a locavore… Locally grown produce is picked riper than produce that has to be shipped, so it just tastes better!

Blackberries

In bigger cities, though, you’re more likely to find things like swiss chard and baby eggplant, locally grown mushrooms and varieties of grass fed beef or lamb, all humanely grown on smaller farms with more variety than the big commercial farms.

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Swiss Chard at the Farmers Market (take home)

There’s something about a connection with the people that actually were involved in bringing food to market.  The anonymity of feedlot meat production means that commercial farming can cut corners, use drugs and hormones meant to keep animals from being sick in an environment in which they weren’t meant to be.  I think it’s a different story to face your customers eye to eye and tell them you raised the animals to produce the meat you’re selling.    One farmer I’ve talked to showed me the pigs that he raises, in conditions that no one would think are inhumane.  There’s just something honest and transparent about that sor tof relationship that can’t exist by using a huge grocery retailer as one of many middlemen.

There are farmers’ markets all over the place.  A couple great sources for them is Local Harvest and Farmers’ Market dot com.  And most farmers’ markets, at least around here, usually have more than just food; you can find locally raised perennials and herbs, soaps and lots of gorgeous flowers.

I’ve got some shots of Findlay Market in Cincinnati, North Market in Columbus, and the Bowersville Farmers’ Market that’s kind of between the two cities.  Some of the shots of Findlay Market were taken with my iPhone, as I forgot my camera that day somehow!

I’d like to hear what your favorite farmers’ market is and why!

Farmers Market Basket

Farmers Market

Flowers at the Farmers Market

North Market

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About Curt McAdams

I guess I'm a bit of a foodie, learning to cook from my mom, then getting obsessed with outdoor cooking, competition barbecue, bread baking and just about all things food. Lately, I've been trying to upgrade my photography skills a bit, though I still have a long way to go.

12 comments

  1. Awesome shots and ideas! I cant believe summer is pretty much over.

    Hurricane Hanna has killed all my almost harvestable brussels sprouts – sad day :-(

  2. Nika,

    As always, it’s great to hear from you! I’ve been watching your home-growing and raising in photos, and you’ve got quite a farm going!

    I’m not a fan of the brussels sprout, so I would have a different perspective, but having the weather take away something we worked for and looked forward to is never fun.

    On summer ending, we were at a local Greek Festival last night, and I put the top down on the way home… The nights are starting to get cool enough that I have to think twice about that. This is my favorite season change every year! I love autumn!

  3. Oh! This hits close to home (no pun intended).

    I buy all my vegetables at a local farm in Northborough MA. They grow practically everything. Nine varietals of lettuce, purple, white and long eggplant, five varietals of tomatoes, etc. About 10% of their stuff is bought at market (these are things like citrus and many kinds of fruit which just can’t be grown easily in our area) for convenience’s sake, which I actually quite appreciate.

    I decided to pick up a few days a week there (I’m between professional jobs) to learn more about it, and I’m just so happy there’s a place like this in my area. It took me almost a year since moving to find one! I get all involved in this stuff, haha.

  4. fm,
    I have to admit, I’ve not seen the term ‘metasnob’ before. :)

    You bring up a good point; some things aren’t grown locally, like citrus, if you live in the north. Some concessions have to be made, unless one decides to just not eat those things.

    The sites I have listed (for which I fixed the links) are good ways to find markets; even Alaska has several farmers’ markets listed.

  5. Good article. I have noticed however even smaller towns are producing sophisticated markets. For example, Fredericksburg, Texas – fbgfarmersmarket.com. Two of my other favorites are Museum of Contemporary Arts, Chicago, which offers a large Tuesday market and Union Square in NYC.
    Thanks for the locavore education.

  6. I agree on the smaller farmers’ markets sometimes having great stuff. It’s really just hard to tell what you’ll find anymore, I think.

  7. Let’s be friends! I saw your locavore post and I’m doing something similar on my blog – check it out and keep up the loca-motive!

  8. Rivka, I’m all for everyone trying the local eating thing. And great photos on your blog, by the way!

  9. Hey there – adopt a blogger matches are up on my blog :)Thanks for participating!

  10. Living in Columbus, I’ve had a nice sampling of the markets here and am confident that the Worthington market is by far the best. North Market would be second.

    It’d also be worth checking out the Athens (OH) market. It’s been around a long time and is nationally recognized.

  11. Andy, I haven’t been up to the Worthington market, but I like the area, so I’ll make an effort to get up there next year. I have a nephew at school in Athens, so I may just check that out in a couple weeks… I may be in Nelsonville to judge a bbq competition, so it’s not far to get to Athens.

    The thing that’s great about the North Market is all the stuff that’s always at the market, too, like Jeni’s ice cream!

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