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Guest Post: Eating Local

Hi peeps! I’m still having a blast here! I just got home – it’s almost midnight – and I’m feeling like quite the rebel staying up this late. Enjoy a guest post from Hillary at Nutrition Nut on the Run!

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Carnivore. Herbivore. Locavore.

By: HILLARY @ Nutrition Nut on the Run

I am sure you are all familiar with the terms carnivore, herbivore, and even omnivore. I assume most consider themselves the latter – eating both plants and animals – while those who eat a vegan diet (and perhaps even vegetarians too) title themselves as herbivores. What and who are locavores, you may ask? Locavores, as the name indicates, are those that focus on eating locally-grown and produced foods. With our country’s current effort on “going green,” local food is a hot topic; I wanted to share a few facts and my two cents on the importance of a locavore lifestyle.

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 Growing up in a rural town on California’s north coast, fresh, local food was in abundance. I have fond memories of strolling the farmer’s market centered on our town’s square with my mom almost every Saturday morning between the months of April and November. The plaza would come alive between the hours of 9am and 2pm with live music, happy vendors, and friendly shoppers with baskets bulging with farm-fresh produce. Little did I know, this weekend family ritual has had a significant impact on my life today.

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Although I do not currently reside in the agriculture haven of Humboldt County, making smart choices about what type of foods I chose to support, and where I buy my groceries hasn’t slipped my mind while away at school. As a college student on a rigid budget, I cannot say that my kitchen is stocked only with organic, locally-grown food as would be my preference; however, the more and more I learn about the devastating effects industrial agricultural has on our environment, the more I am willing to shell out a few extra bucks to support a movement I believe will help our planet spin longer and healthier.

The importance of eating locally can be rather complex, but perhaps a few statistics will inspire you to think about the route your food travels from farm to table:

§ Industrial food travels an average of 1,500 miles from farm to fork.

§ Locally-produced food requires 17x less petroleum than does a diet based on food shipped across the country.

§ Industrial agriculture has reduced the varieties of fruits and vegetables available by 75% since the beginning of the 20th century.

§ Today, 75% of the world’s food is generated from just 12 varieties of plants and 5 animal species. Iceberg lettuce, frozen and fried potatoes, potato chips and canned tomatoes make up almost half of U.S. vegetable consumption.

On the contrary, here are a few of the many benefits of eating local:

§ Locally gown food tastes better.

As kids, my brother and I loved when my mom would buy a big bag of raw, organic green beans for us to crunch on as we sauntered around the Saturday market. The flavors and aromas of foods that have been plucked out of the earth just hours before consuming do not even compare to the plastic-wrapped bags of starched lettuces that survive on supermarket shelves for unnatural amounts of time.

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§ Local organically-grown food is healthier for you.

 “Local organicallygrown food that is eaten soon after being harvested is higher in nutrients  and does not contain pesticides and added hormones found in industrially-produced food” (pg.  10). More often than not, local famers use organic farming methods which build soil and soil  fertility. Soils rich in organic matter have a greater capacity for additional nutrients that they  can convey to the plants.

§ Buy local helps build our economy & community.

Growing up in a small town with little to no corporations (and the fact that my family has been  running our family-owned and operated business for 35+ years), supporting others trying to  make their way in this world the same way is a no-brainer. “Several studies have shown that  every dollar spent in a locally-owned store has three times the effect of a dollar spent at a store owned by a distant corporation”(pg. 10).

I hope these few words have inspired you to learn more about becoming a locavore, whether you chose to continue eating a carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore diet. Our agricultural standards and food industry in general has frankly gotten out of hand. I hope you will take part in putting the dirt back into your own hands. Start by researching farmer’s markets in your area, look into receiving weekly boxes of produce from your neighborhood famers, or better yet… turn over the soil in your own backyard and plant some seeds of your own. ‘Tis [always] the season to eat sustainability, organically, and locally.

Here’s to a healthy planet and a healthy YOU!

– The Nutrition Nut

Source: Locally Delicious: Recipes and Resources for Eating on the North Coast. Copyright 2009 Anne Anderson, Martha Haynes, Ann King, Carol Moné, Lauren Cohn-Sarabia and Suzanne Simpson

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I recently stopped at a local farm and bought some strawberries and the flavor was unbelievable. Seriously, I don’t remember the last time I’ve had such amazing tasting berries, if ever. Buying local is the way to go for flavor and for the commumity and environment. Thanks for a wonderful post Hillary

Do you try to buy local? I go to farmer’s markets often (but not often enough!), and Whole Foods labels where their produce comes from. I always try to buy the produce that is grown closest to my area and in season. I’m newly inspired to hit up the local farmer’s markets after this post though!

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  • Becky
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    Great post! I try to stock up at the farmer’s market at least every couple of weeks. There is always an overflow of fresh produce and local specialty products that you can’t find on supermarket shelves.
    .-= Becky´s last blog ..Spaghetti Squash Tutorial =-.

  • Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman
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    I try to eat local, but in the winter it’s impossible to eat totally local. (Unless, of course, you live in California and then you’re just spoiled.) Growing up in New England, you knew that if you were eating fruits and vegetables in December or January, then were flown in from somewhere. Thank goodness the summer farmers market season is just about here!

  • Amanda
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    Funny that it took me a move AWAY from the agricultural mecca that is California to actually get into the local food movement.

    I live in Washington, D.C., where the FRESHFARM markets are not only fantastic, but you might get a chance to glance at Michelle Obama while you shop!

    Your photos and story are beautiful. Thanks for a great post!

  • Lauren @ Health on the Run
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    Hillary — thanks for these great facts! I try to eat local, but I have to admit I don’t always do as well as I would like. It’s actually something I’m really determined to work on this summer. But the foods DO taste 100x better…and there are so many other benefits (as you pointed out), that I think it more than justifies the (usually) higher prices.
    .-= Lauren @ Health on the Run´s last blog ..The Power of a Playlist =-.

  • Ali @ Redhead Reports
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    I haven’t found a farmer’s market in Houston, but I do buy my groceries at H-E-B, a grocery store that sells local produce.
    .-= Ali @ Redhead Reports´s last blog ..Beehive Jazz & Mavericks Win =-.

  • Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter
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    Such a fantastic guest post! I’m huge on buying local too. I love how my college town is known for being a “hippie” town, but also very organic and local too. There is a farmer’s market every weekend that I really enjoy going to.

  • claire
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    This is a great post Hillary & Teri. I love finding about new blogs! I really felt I could relate to this post because I grew up spending every summer on Martha’s Vineyard which is all about local ingredients. Also, my boyfriend is also from northern ca (berkeley area) and has benefited so much from growing up around great produce and an emphasis on local. In college, it was hard to make time to go to the local farmers market but in boston, there was one right downtown that I tried to fit in between classes even sometimes. I don’t think there were too many other students with bags filled with local produce during class. Not only does it taste significantly better, but it is so wonderful to know that it hasn’t been picked and flown in from another country or even driven across.
    .-= claire´s last blog ..why “we blog” =-.

  • christina
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    you’re so right – local food does taste better. i’m currently obsessed with these grapes i buy from my farmer’s market. mmmm!
    .-= christina´s last blog ..Oops, a hiatus. =-.

  • hbobier @ Basil Vodka
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    Being from Minnesota, we’re somewhat limited in what all we can eat local. But, I am excited to be getting involved with a CSA this summer. Has anyone done that before? I’m scouting out this farm actually from my hometown: http://www.loonorganics.com/?page_id=15

    Anyways, this will be my first CSA–and first real attempt at eating local outside of weekly trips to the Farmers Market in the summer, so please let me know if you have any advice!!

  • Lisa
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    One of my favorite things about summertime are farmer’s markets! The best food comes from local farmers in my opinion. And a lot of times they have things I’ve never tried before.
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Bike Route =-.

  • Samantha @ Foodedu
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    Good post Hilary! I am a big supporter of eating local for many of the reasons you stated above–primarly keeping $$ in the community and because it sure does taste a million times better. I also think we have it really good living in California! I have found the CSA to be really beneficial for busy bee’s such as myself because it arrives at my doorstep. It makes healthy eating so much easier because I always have fresh, local produce at my dispense.
    I will say though, depending on where you are in the US–eating locally can be more difficult. “Industrial agriculture” may not be efficient or practical to many of us here in the agricultural productive regions–but does allow for relatively fresh and nutritious foods to be made available to those people in parts of the country who would otherwise not have access. However you can look for labels that are country of origin specific–like grown in the USA or California Grown.

    Wonderful Post!!
    .-= Samantha @ Foodedu´s last blog ..The Weekend Edition: One Day Early =-.

  • Anonymous
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    Teri – speaking of this, we need to go to the farmer’s market when you get back! Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-1, we’ll have to go on your lunch break. Plan on it!

    • Teri
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      I’d love to! Who is this? 🙂

  • Sarah-Mae @ Eat, Run, Knit
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    I eat as much local produce as I can, but if I stuck to 100% local I would be super limited in the Canadian winters… being near the 100 mile diet founders, I would basically be eating the exact same if I did so as well!

  • Megan @ The Oatmeal Diaries
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    I try to eat local/organic whenever possible. Great post!!
    .-= Megan @ The Oatmeal Diaries´s last blog ..the color orange =-.

  • Donna Parker
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    Great post Hill!

  • Lisa (I'm an Okie)
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    Locavore made me laugh out loud. Love it! Im a locavore! Im so happy the farmerts market has started up again and my mom is also a member of the Food Coop where I get some food from her!
    .-= Lisa (I’m an Okie)´s last blog ..Flashback Friday: The Old Lisa. =-.

  • One For My Brother & Mother
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    […] A little late… my GUEST POST @ A Foodie Stays Fit: Carnivore. Herbivore. Locavore. […]