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The challenges of being a locavore

(post, Patricia Eddy)

I've read a number of posts lately on the challenges of eating local and organic. There was an article just the other day on the challenges of eating all organic for 1 month. The article read like this effort was herculean. I'm not sure that it was intended to be that way, but I've been eating almost exclusively organic for several years now and honestly, it's not hard. 

However, that's not to say that eating local and organic is without challenges. I'm the first to admit that while I'm extremely dedicated to my locavore lifestyle, when the popcorn machine starts up at work on a Friday afternoon, I don't always resist. 

I spend a lot of time on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/cooklocal) and one of my standard searches is for the word Locavore. The most frequent hits I receive on that search are people who say something like the following: "I'd love to be a locavore, but I can't give up my coffee." You can replace coffee with chocolate, oranges, bananas, or lemons. There are a few foods that you just don't get outside a few distinct areas of the country. 

I often ask those people, however, "Is this one food stopping you from being a locavore?" I don't believe in absolutes. I believe I can be a locavore 99% of the time and still drink my coffee. Will purists disagree? Probably. But I identify myself as a locavore because my first thought when looking at a recipe is "can I make this local?". 99% of my shopping is done at the local farmers markets - YEAR ROUND. 

To me, being a locavore involves the following principles. 

1. No eating out of season. I can wait for Washington strawberries. I don't need to buy them from California. 

2. Use the farmers market tables as a guide for my recipes. When I browse the web, I bookmark tasty looking recipes by placing them in seasonal folders. I've got a Winter recipe folder, a Summer recipe folder, a Spring recipe folder, and a Fall recipe folder. 

3. Encourage others to eat local. Between my website and my Twitter account, I'm constantly advocating for local farms and local food. 

4. Realize that I'm not perfect, but I should be the best that I can. The other day, I had a banana. I was at the store for some local fish and I saw it. More importantly, I smelled it. I never crave bananas, or hadn't in years. But this day, I needed one in the worst way. Had I not been at the store, I wouldn't have even noticed. But I was there and so was that banana. I bought it. I ate it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Will I buy another? Not likely, at least not for a year or two. But even though I have ideals I want to maintain, I realize I'm human and once in a while I'll slip up. 

I can still be a locavore even though I occasionally slip. I can buy coffee (though always organic and direct trade). I can still have a small amount of chocolate. I use non-local sugar on occasion, though I've finally found a local source and I'll switch to it as soon as I run out of the non-local stuff. I'm a locavore because I believe that fresh food from farms in my area is much better than anything I can buy that's imported from another state or country. 

So if you're thinking of becoming a locavore, don't let one ingredient stop you. Realize that reducing your consumption of that ingredient and being a locavore for everything else is still a lot better than most people and a tremendous help to the environment and to your local farmers.