Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Locavore: one of the latest food trends describing people who commit to eating as many local grown and harvested foods as possible.

Eating local has become a popular and smart food choice. Choosing local foods over non local or imported items allows one to get the freshest products with maximum nutrients, along with boosting local economies and reducing energy/enviornmental impacts of transporting food to the table. Some might think that eating local is an all-or-nothing type of idea - but there are so many small steps you can take in trying to eat local. Most people start by trying local foods produced within a 100-mile radius from home. Even just a few peppers from a farmer's market is taking a step in the right direction. As convenient as going to the grocery store can be - there is just something so much more satisfying when buying local, fresh and even more delicious produce. I mean seriously, what is better then local sweet corn, strawbs and raspberries all summer long?! If that doesn't get you thinking local then I don't know what will!

Here are 8 tips from CIBC's Medical Director Dr. David Brown on the "easy ways to become a locavore."

1. Visit a farmer’s market. Vegetables and fruits that you buy at your local farmer's market have often been picked within 24 hours of your purchase. This freshness not only makes the food taste better, but the nutritional value is higher too. Farmer’s markets also keep small farms in business through direct sales. Rather than going through a middleman, the farmer takes home nearly all of the money for those delectable apples or tasty bunch of grapes. To find a farmer’s market in your area browse your community newspaper or search the Internet for your local markets.

2. Learn what foods are in season in your area and try to build your diet around them. By researching local farms and farmer’s markets, you can take advantage of seasonal fruits, vegetables, and other locally produced food items. For example, choose locally grown asparagus in the spring and summer, and enjoy root vegetables in the fall.

3. Start with a few foods you can buy locally. Rather than trying to source everything locally all at once, aim for just a few foods. In many areas local fruits and vegetables are readily available in the summer months, and it's also possible to find meat, poultry, eggs, milk, or cheese—all grown, harvested and produced close to your home.

4. Preserve local foods. There are lots of preservable fruits and vegetables which can be frozen, canned, jarred, pickled, made into jams or otherwise preserved for use at a later date. Local food that is preserved quickly keeps its nutrition and makes your meal preparation easier. For example, prepare a lasagna with local tomatoes, cook some homemade jams, or make a soup packed with fresh veggies and freeze it. For tips on how to safely preserve foods, visit your local bookstore, or food preparation websites.

5. Plant your own garden. Whether you have a small balcony, a rooftop garden, or a large backyard, with just a bit of a green thumb you can plant your favourite herb(s) or vegetable(s) and harvest them over the summer and fall. If you have never planted food before, there are lots of resources available at local home and garden centres and on the Internet to help get you started.

6. Ask about food origins. Ask your supermarket manager where your meat, produce and dairy products are coming from. Call the manufacturer of your favourite foods to see where their ingredients are from. By asking questions you send a message to food companies and distributors that consumers care about the origin of ingredients, and you can influence their purchasing/producing practices.

7. Visit restaurants that support local farmers. You can find out which restaurants in your area support local farmers by asking the restaurants about their ingredients directly, or by asking your favourite farmers what restaurant accounts they have.

8. Buy from local vendors. Can't find locally grown products? Try locally produced foods.  Many areas have locally produced jams, jellies, breads, roasted coffees or locally created confections or desserts. While these businesses may not always use strictly local ingredients in their products, by purchasing them you are supporting the local economy.

photo credit: google images

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