Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Reflections on a Local Food Lifestyle

I can’t believe it but it’s been over a year since my first post in 2011. Since then I have read up on food, tried some of the amazing produce that North Carolina has to offer and gotten input from others on what they can get locally in their home towns. It’s been an exciting and enlightening year and thanks to all that have taken the journey with me, submitted recipes or pointed me to new markets.

Now that I’ve been trying this local eating thing for a year, I have some reflections on getting and eating local food:
  1. It’s not hard. You may need to plan ahead a little and be familiar with your state’s produce offerings, but if you want to eat locally, you can (at least in Charlotte and every other city my guest bloggers have written about).
  2. If you eat locally, others will too. I can’t relay how many people that I’ve spoken to about my journey over the past year have become interested in and, in many cases, hooked on local food. By (gently) telling my friends, family and coworkers about the benefits of local food, many have sought out farmers markets and co-ops available in their area.
  3. Not all farmers markets sell local produce. Just because your food doesn’t come from a grocery store doesn’t mean it’s local. Many farmers markets supplement their local items with non-local produce in order to have a more complete offering and attract shoppers. This isn’t necessarily bad because often the non-local ingredients are also organic, humanely-raised or otherwise better than grocery store produce but buyers should be aware and ask vendors where their food comes from.
  4. Eating locally can inspire you to try new things. This is such an understatement. I’m not a professional or even an amateur cook, just someone that wants to feed myself and my friends healthy and delicious food. By exploring locally grown and raised offerings, I’ve been encouraged to branch out and try produce I’ve never used before.
  5. Food is more meaningful when you shake the hand that grew it. In twenty first century America, we’re very disconnected from the source of our food. When you shop at a farmers market, you often get to meet who grew your food, discuss with them how they prepare their food and generally be closer to what you eat. I find that I waste less food and take more pride in what I make when I know someone has worked hard to grow it.
  6. A local food lifestyle can very easily be a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. I’m not sure if it’s because you can grow more produce per acre than you can animals or whether regulations on raising animals for meat are just so taxing (pun intended) that it’s not as lucrative, but for whatever reason, farmers markets have more produce than protein. This means that there’s often an abundance of fruits and vegetables, often in varieties you can’t find at the grocery store, making a meat-free lifestyle easy and interesting.
Though my one year experiment is over, I will continue to post on the blog as I find recipes and other tidbits that I think would be of interest to others that are striving to live a more local lifestyle. Don’t hesitate to send me your recipes and experiences at charlottelocaleats@gmail.com!

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