The Chapel Feralous


Becoming Locavores May 2, 2008

This is something I’ve been meaning to post about for a while now, but keep forgetting or getting distracted… today I received the following from Ross Bishop (I have put in the hyperlinks to words-check ’em out!), so I guess I’ll pop it up, with a quick mention to check out “Slow Food“, “Free School” and “Dumpster Diving“… I’ll put a bit more info on the last 3 into Babylon Molatov…


I’ve been thinking about something for while – with fuel costs going through the roof, carbon footprints, the awful nutritional content of supermarket produce, agricultural chemicals, skyrocketing grocery prices, grain shortages and price hikes due to ethanol production (one of the greatest con jobs ever foisted on the American public, by the way), global warming, droughts around the planet, etc., I think it’s time for all of us to rethink our choices.

I started making my own bread a while ago, and have thought about grinding my own flour because store bought flour in America simply has no life to it. When I lived in Santa Fe I raised chickens, and I cannot believe the difference in the energy of fresh eggs and what I get from the store – even the free range ones. The difference is incredible!

I was talking with a friend about this yesterday, thinking to myself, “I have this acre of land around my house on which I grow what? Grass! And it takes more water and fertilizer than vegetables would!” Then the light began to dawn. During WWII, people were encouraged to create Victory Gardens as a part of the war effort, largely to reduce fuel consumption. Prior to that, family gardens and fruit trees had been a standard part of our lifestyle. Family gardens had gone away as people moved into town and stores and mass produced fruits and vegetables provided a more upscale and frankly, easier alternative. Well guess what? It’s Victory Garden time again. Interestingly, that same day, someone sent me a link about urban gardening: (There is a lot of material on the Internet.) Then a friend,
Brian Sanderoff, a natural pharmacist who runs Your Prescription For Health ( in Baltimore, sent me an article about eating locally that he had circulated to his email group last week. It is worth reading:

THE HEALTHIEST POSSIBLE DIET – For You and For the Rest of Us
Brian Sanderoff, P.D.

The debate rages on… vegetarian, vegan, high protein-low carb (Atkins), South Beach, Fat-Flush, Macrobiotic… which diet is the healthiest for you?

In the past, my stock answer to this sticky question has been, “it depends”. There are many factors that would determine which is right for an individual… genetics, metabolism, blood type, ethnic background, health, personal preferences, etc. If I saw five patients in one day that all asked me that very same question, the conclusion drawn would have been that there is a different answer for each one of them.

Herbivore? Carnivore? Omnivore?

Nope… if we really want the healthiest way of eating… for you, and for the rest or us, how about LOCAVORE!!

Factoid: The New Oxford American Dictionary chose locavore as its word of the year for 2007.

A “locavore” is someone that eats food grown or produced locally or within a certain radius of where they live. The distance considered “local” may vary depending upon your sensibilities, but a generally accepted rule of thumb may be within 100 miles.

This would be taking the question to a whole different level – one that transcends whether you are eating meat or not. And one that eschews the organic vs. non-organic argument. Or, better said, decide to eat locally first – then you can argue about all the rest of it. Vegetarian or carnivore, organic or not – if you are getting your food locally, chances are it will be healthier for you than if it traveled in a truck, boat or plane to make it to your plate. And, just as importantly, it will be healthier for me if you did that too!

The average American meal has traveled at least 1,500 miles to make it to your plate (that is further than the average American family goes for vacation). So what is the true cost of a meal when you consider the fuel costs of transportation and refrigeration, packaging, labor, etc? The cost to the environment and the inflated cost of gasoline (because of supposed scarcity) makes that 99 cent hamburger one heck of a lot more expensive.

Get this – according to Barbara Kingsolver (author of many novels including Poisonwood Bible) and husband Steven Hopp in their book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – if every American citizen would eat just one local and organically grown meal a week, the savings in fuel would amount to 1.1 million barrels of oil every week! How many of us have considered trading in our SUVs for little Hondas? Want to make a real difference, and help yourself in the process… become a locavore… the impact can be tremendous, even if you only partially dedicate yourself to the idea.

Locally grown food makes up less than 1% of the $900-billion food industry. The reasons for this are numerous, including grocery chains & wholesalers and fast-food producers finding it easier and more profitable to buy from huge factory farms. Government subsidies also contribute to the appearance of economies with the large-scale food delivery system.

Imagine what would happen if there were no more local farms in our area. All it would take is one natural disaster between here and the Mid-West, or one ill-timed political decision, or one trucker’s strike to render us helpless.

Here are additional benefits (other than saving gas) that come from encouraging and supporting local farmers…

  • Eating foods harvested locally also means eating them almost immediately after harvest, which translates into better taste and increased nutritional value, because foods ripen on the vine, not through an artificial process while in a truck.

  • Keeping local farmers in business helps to control urban sprawl – a family farm going out of business is what leads to the land becoming available to developers.

  • Eating locally encourages multiple cropping; growing multiple species and a wide variety of crops at the same time and place… this is healthier for the land and also makes the farms less susceptible to the likelihood of an entire crop loss caused by one factor (meaning if all you grow is soy beans and a soy bean virus attacks your crops – you’re done).

  • Multiple cropping also allows for more efficient use of labor and materials because different plants come in at different times, as opposed to 80% of the work happening in a short period of time.

  • Local economies are strengthened by protecting local jobs and local suppliers.

I really encourage you to think this through very carefully. Think about how simple it would be to make a small change in your habits that could reap huge rewards down the road. One meal a week, that is less than 5% of your total eating activity, can make a huge difference in your health and mine. If you aren’t interested in helping yourself, you could at least do it for me! Brian

So, whether you decide to grow your own or simply buy more locally, DO SOMETHING! I will finish turning my garden soil tomorrow. Be the first in your neighborhood to grow corn or beans in your yard or squash amongst your petunias – (if you can find non-GMO seed). Create a plot with a neighbor, put a potted tomato on your balcony, shop a the farmer’s market – do something to create change, and then follow thorough on it. The politicians have had 50 years to do something, but they have been corrupted by the special interests. We must take responsibility for our lives – change begins with you.



6 Responses to “Becoming Locavores”

  1. MJ Olsen Says:

    Terrific article, thanks for passing it on! MJ

  2. feralbrown Says:

    No worries… I’m assuming you’re an Aussie by the permaculture article, and particularly mentioning Bill Mollison’s name- there was actually an interesting interview on ABC regional radio the other day… did you hear it?
    I think from memory she was from the Port Stephens area and she took what she called the “Locavore Challenge” where she’d only eat and drink products from within a defined zone (can’t remember the distance)… She sounded quite pleased with herself, and particularly with the quality and price of the produce she ate during the challenge.
    I’m quite interested in initiating a similar thing amongst Aussie bloggers, and maybe creating a combined blog where people can share their experiences and finds within their particular region.
    Are you interested in participating?


  3. feralbrown Says:

    OK… I just had a squizz and couldn’t find an mp3 or transcript of the interview… BUT…
    Eating close to home: the locavore challenge

    and it also seems someone in the USA has pipped me to the post with the Locavore Blogging thing:

    Interested in participating in an Aussie one?

  4. mjolsen Says:

    Alas, i’m from Michigan, usa — have been a ‘permaculture person’ since my first workshop in the early 1980’s, and have a design certificate — having taken classes in Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee. There are lots of us ’round here!

    Don’t know if you’ve seen it, but Barbara Kingsolver (one of my favorite authors) also wrote a locavore book.

  5. barbara vine Says:

    […] today I received the following from Ross Bishop I have put in the hyperlinks to words-check entertainment guide The Scranton Times-TribuneAPPLEBEE??S NEIGHBORHOOD GRILL & BAR, Viewmont […]

  6. feralbrown Says:

    Ah, right… that’s good to know- I was introduced to Bill a few years back by a mutual friend, and wound up having a RIDICULOUSLY LONG conversation with him about all things sustainable which has left me totally inspired by all things permacultural…
    Barbara Kingslover (one of your favourite authors) actually gets a mention in the article. 😉 😛 lol
    I’m still waiting on a copy of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle… I ordered it when I put this post up- I’d never heard of her before, but it definitely looks/sounds like a good read. Hopefully I’m motivated enough to put a review up or something once I’ve read it.

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