A locavore is simply somebody who eats local food!
Apparently, according to locavores.com, the word "locavore" was the "2007 Word of the Year" for the Oxford American Dictionary. Locavores try to eat mostly what is produced within a couple of hundred kilometres or so of where they live. They usually seek out organically grown, fresh produce.
There are a number of reasons for this:
- Food transport is a major source of oil consumption and CO2 emissions. Steven L. Hopp put it quite simply "a quick way to improve food-related fuel economy would be to buy a quart of motor oil and drink it". This is because "[G]etting the crop from seed to harvest takes only one fifth of the total oil used for our food. The lion’s share is consumed during the trip from the farm to your plate. Each food item in a typical U.S. meal has traveled an average of 1500 miles. In addition to direct transport, other fuel-thirsty steps include processing (drying, milling, cutting, sorting, baking), packaging, warehousing and refrigeration. Energy calories consumed by production, packaging and shipping far outweigh the energy calories we receive from the food." I suspect, given the similarity in lifestyle and per-capita CO2 emissions, the same numbers would apply to Australian consumers. If you are keen to reduce the carbon footprint of your food, there is no easier way than to eat local food.
- The quality of many food items is compromised due to harvesting of unripe fruit and vegetables to extend the time they can survive being in transit from producer to consumer. Local food is fresher and usually tastier.
- Most modern Westerners have lost touch with the rhythm of life and the cycle of seasons. We have forgotten how much joy there is in waiting in anticipation for the first fresh strawberries from the garden because we are used to having cardboard strawberries all year round in the shop. Or how wonderful it is to eat fresh asparagus while they are in season and then not touch another one until the next season comes around.
- A focus on local food brings consumers in closer contact with the way their food is being produced, be it vegetables or fruit or meat. We may even produce some of our food ourselves!
- Farmers' markets are a great way to access the variety of food produced in your local area and they are a wonderful way to get out and meet people.
Of course nobody has to go to total extremes. For example, in my family we still eat oranges and they are not grown commercially anywhere nearby. Although... the wonderful Australian gardening guru Jackie French does grow them in her garden, and that is not too far from here, so maybe, in a few years time, even we may have local oranges in our backyard...
But if we all changed our habits just somewhat some of the time, it would make a huge difference.