Locavore is a catch word that has become popular of late. Literally meaning “local eater,” the term refers to someone who consumes foods that come from resources located within no more than a 100 mile radius from home. The movement, while not recent, has gained momentum lately as consumers have become more aware of becoming “green” or using “sustainable agriculture.” Essentially, eating local makes environmentally, economically and from a health perspective.
Environmentally, locavorism reduces an individuals “carbon footprint,” meaning the amount of petroleum used in the production and transportation of a product is reduced, thereby reducing the amount of fossil fuels used and the amount of carbon dioxide being put into the atmosphere. It also encourages biodiversity, which studies have shown is beneficial in maintaining long term viability of soil.
From an economic perspective, eating local ensures that consumers contribute to their local economy, which is a great way of ensuring that businesses can continue to be viable and don’t get crowded out by large corporations. And contrary to popular belief, locally available produce and meats are not necessarily more expensive than produce and meats available in larger grocery stores. Particularly with higher gas prices, many groceries that were previously very affordable are now becoming more expensive because of the cost to produce and transport them.
From a health perspective, many local farms utilize organic farming practices. While they may not be certified organic due to cost of certification and regulations regarding proximity to commercial farms, these farms often refrain from using pesticides and antibiotics and often allow their animals to roam free, hence the term “free-range.” Also, keep in mind that many items labeled “organic” in the grocery store are not necessarily organic. There are many loopholes to certification that commercial farms often find to get certified that consumers are not aware of. This is a subject for a future article.
There are many locally available resources for produce, including Coneflower Farms and Plowcreek Farms outside of Princeton and Indian Trail Farms outside of Kewanee. For meats, Meadow Haven Farms here in Sheffield offers free-range chickens and organic grass fed beef and Red Barn Nursery offers free-range lamb. In Buda, Grubbsteaks offers free-range buffalo. While this list is by no means exhaustive, it is just an example of some of the many farms locally that provide these valuable resources. In the summer you can find many of these as well as a whole host of others at the Farmers Markets in both Princeton and Kewanee. Many farms also offer CSA’s, or Community Supported Agriculture programs, that you can join for an entire growing season, allowing you to take advantage of what is seasonal and fresh on a weekly basis.
Here at the Chestnut Street Inn we make an effort to go out of our way to utilize as many locally available resources as we can, including an annual subscription to Coneflower Farms CSA. We encourage all of you to do the same. It is a great opportunity to give back to the community while doing something good for the environment, your pocket book and your body. For more information on these and other locally available resources, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 815-454-2419.