Locavores and a local eating challenge for September!

Judy Godino comments on local farms and local foods, answers the question, “what is a locavore anyway?” and shares the NOFA NY Locavore Challenge for September.

It is almost impossible to talk about the subject of local eating without involving Wendell Berry, the Kentucky based writer and farmer who believes the “good life” includes sustainable agriculture, healthy rural communities and the pleasures of good food. He is well known for stating that “Eating is an agricultural act,” the culture/cultivation of the earth. I happen to agree.

There is a strong, valuable, beautiful and complex relationship between eating and the land. Hence, we need to understand this relationship by supporting our local farms, starting gardens and understanding how the land is cared for and how we grow our food.

Again, Wendell Berry suggests how to get involved and engaged.

1. Participate in food production to the extent that you can.

2. Prepare your own food.

3. Learn the origin of your food and buy food that is produced close to your home.

4. When possible, deal directly with a local farmer, gardener and orchards.

5. Learn, in self defense as much as you can of the economy and technology of food production. What do you pay for those additives that are not food.

6. Learn as much as you can about the best farming and garden by direct experience and observation.

We are so fortunate in the Hudson Valley to have a plethora of farms, farmer’s markets, CSAs and community gardens.  Therefore we have so many sources and options to become a Locavore for a day, week or month. This is an event set up and sponsored by NOFA (Northeast Organic Farmers Association). It is a personal challenge for you to eat only organic and or sustainable food  produced locally within 250 miles and be produced using organic or sustainable methods. You may select the specific day or week during the month of September.  You can also do this on your own….make the commitment and just remember the rule that all foods consumed during the time period must be produced locally within 250 miles and produced using organic or sustainable methods.(or strive for the more challenging 100 mile radius.) You can share your progress and ask questions at the Run The Farm Website.

Here are helpful, allowable shortcuts.

  1. Marco Polo Rule:  salt, pepper and spices do not need to be local, which originates from the premise that if you could carry it in your pockets while at sea, you could bring it to the new world.
  2. Wild card items: You can choose up to 5 wild card ingredients that cannot be sourced locally but you can’t live without..(eg. coffee, chocolate, tea, olive oil, nuts)

The top 5 reasons to become a Locavore are:

1. Taste…locally produced are freshly harvested at peak of ripeness

2. Environmental Concern. the shortest distance your food has to travel the smaller the carbon footprint on the environment.

3. Community. By purchasing local food you are supporting local businesses both directly and indirectly. Your food will have a name, a face and a family you are supporting.

4. Variety. NYS organic farms are typically smaller scale and promote biodiversity of crops.

5. Health. Eating ,clean, nutritious food is the best investment you can make for your own health and the health of your family   Foods free of toxic chemicals, antibiotics, synthetic hormones and GMOs are available from organic farmers, those who take the farmers pledge about which you can ask your grower.

So remember, Food Minus the Mileage during the month of September…make it a habit. And come out and “Run the Farm” on October 24th 2010. Each finisher in the 5 mile race will receive $5 in “farm bucks” good for use at any vendor at the Farmers Market on that day.

Sources:

1 “The pleasures of eating” from What are People For. Wendell Berry 1990.

2. NOFA at WWW.NOFANY.ORG.  An organization of eaters, gardeners and farmers creating a sustainable regional food system which is ecologically sound and economically viable. Through demonstration and education , land stewardship, organic food production and local markets are promoted as well as a closer relationship between farmer and consumer.