Become a Locavore Next Door in Five Simple Steps

By Carrie Robinson on June 01, 2012 from The Locavore Next Door via

In a recent past life, I was a high school teacher and I was granted the duty of teaching a science unit for the spring semester to a group of 13- to 18-year olds.  Please note that I am not a science major; I am a history major. After poring over different topics for the semester, I decided that I would feel most comfortable teaching a unit on environmental science.  Environmental science can spread into so many various topics, but I settled on food production (surprising, huh?). Where does our food come from?  What methods are used to grow the food we eat?  Are these various farming practices hurting us and our world more than they are benefiting us?  How can we become more conscious, active consumers of the foods that we buy? 

My students learned quite a bit that spring.  But so did I. I learned that I no longer felt comfortable just buying that bag of chicken breasts at the big chain supermarket.  I would pick up the package and my mind would generate a plethora of questions:
Where were these chickens raised?  Were they packed into a warehouse with thousands of others chickens, never seeing the light of day?  Were they pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics?  Where were they processed and was the equipment clean and sterilized?  Since I couldn’t have any of my questions answered right there in the store, I often left the bag of chicken breasts sitting in the grocery freezer and not in my cart.  I realized that I wanted to know WHERE the food I was feeding my family came from.  I was evolving into what many would call a locavore.

 What is a locavore? A locavore is someone who likes to know where the food they consume every day comes from. They strive to eat local as much as possible. I try to be a locavore most of the time.  It just isn’t possible to always be one 100 percent of the time.  I cannot always know exactly where my meat and vegetables and fruits are coming from.  But when I shop locally, I can be a 100 percent locavore in that moment.  And so can you.  Trying to become a locavore can seem daunting, but here are five easy steps that you can take now towards becoming one:

1. This one is probably the easiest and maybe most obvious, but shop the local farmers market! The Bridgeport Farmers Market is open every Sunday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Market Place in Charles Pointe.  The wonderful thing about the farmers market is that you can talk directly to the farmer, producer or vendor of what you are purchasing right then and there.  You can ask them about their growing methods, how they make their delicious jam, where they raise their honeybees.  And often times, vendors are more than happy to let you have a taste of what they have on hand.  For more information on the Bridgeport Farmers Market, visit their Facebook page here:
2. Start small.  Go through your refrigerator and pantry after visiting the farmers market and choose two to five items that you can start buying locally immediately.  More than one vendor at the farmers market carries local eggs, so start there.  Local honey is another easy pantry purchase.  My family tries to buy at least one meat per week from the farmers market.  One week we bought hoagie meat.  This week we bought flank steak.  Replace your dried (and probably past fresh) herbs for live herb plants.  I bought basil, parsley and sage plants at the first outdoor market of the season.
3. Start a garden of your own.  You really can’t get much more local than your own backyard.  And you do not have to have a lot of land to grow your own veggies.  Many tomato plants do well in containers on patios and decks.  We are trying a small raised garden bed this summer that only requires a three-by-three foot space.  Just be conscious of what you use in your soil and for pest control. Most chemicals can see
p into your fresh vegetables.  It is best to find natural methods to fertilize and to keep the bugs off of your plants.  By the way, the farmers market has had a great variety of locally grown vegetable and flowering plants the past few weeks.
4. Occasionally pass up the big chain stores and vendors for the smaller, locally owned shops.  This area has been blessed with lots of great local bakeries, a handful of small coffee shops and many family-owned restaurants.  Choose to spend your money at one of these businesses at least two to three times per month.  Buying local means that your money is going right back into the local economy and the community.
5. Visit a local farm.  Most of the vendors I have spoken with at the farmers market would be more than happy to host visitors and give you a tour of their farms and facilities.  This is a great day trip if you have children, too.  Kids love farms.  They like to get dirty and to see animals and will get to learn a little something about where their food comes from in the process.  You will also be helping to light the spark in a future generation of locavores.

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