Buzzword, Locavore. Ironic Fallacy?

Eat Local Food ButtonThe words of the year for 2007 have been determined. The Oxford American Dictionary picks “locavore” (noun) • one who eats food grown or produced locally or within a certain radius such as 50, 100, or 150 miles.

The term “locavore” was coined two years ago in San Francisco by a group whose official membership has since grown to include participants all over the world, including several in Georgia. The group exchanges tips and celebrates their respective foodsheds (path from supplier to table and everything in between).

While trying to zero in on my foodshed, I learned that the modern U.S. foodshed includes the whole world, and found a lot of other interesting information as well as a link to an online community food store at www.foodroutes.org. Looking at the agricultural system in terms of the origins and pathways of food items, it seems feasible to focus them at the local level.

But a couple of comments about the Oxford dictionary word choice reflect cynicism and frustration with the “do-good fad” of locavoreing. One man writes:

“I once tried being a locavore, researching local sources online, going to farmers’ markets and soforth. But what I found is that the electricity I used doing my research, and the gasoline I burned driving to the markets, probably increased my carbon footprint tenfold for the specific task of grocery shopping. I think the concept of being a locavore is an ironic fallacy …”

Ouch.

Here I am, all excited and ready to aim high. I have studied the guidelines:

If not locally produced, then organic.
If not organic, then family farm.
If not family farm, then local business.
If not local business, then terroir (i.e. Parmesan from Parma)

And, taking advice from the experts who started the 100-mile diet, I am starting small. One night, one meal. Make it New Year’s Eve. The menu includes a few pounds of local shrimp easily obtainable 2 miles from home. I’ll also cook up some turnips and winter greens I retrieved from an organic farmer 28.3 miles away near the Marlow area of South Effingham County. For a modified lowcountry boil I’ll get some sausage from Hinson’s Georgia Market in Rincon (23.2 miles). At that same store I would like to pick up some Thomasville cheese (234 miles) and corn meal from Helen (335 miles) for muffins, but they come from too far away. I will take the wine from Statesboro (55 miles) and go home.

Maybe an in-state diet would be more diverse but this menu doesn’t look half bad … A few more days until New Year’s and I’d like to add some more items, appetizers mostly. But now here I am, calculating the gas mileage and anxious to shut down the computer.

Photo credit: Roland via Flickr.

3 thoughts on “Buzzword, Locavore. Ironic Fallacy?

  1. Aggie

    I understand your frustration. You are trying to do the right thing (supporting local farms and farmers) but doing so produces an undesirable externality (increased emissions and energy use). However, let’s look at it in the long term. By supporting local agriculture, you help keep farmers in business. And by writing about it here you are — one hopes — recruiting new customers for the farmers. As the market for local food grows, it will become available in more locations and multi-county shopping trips will become unnecessary.

    In the meantime, you could consider taking orders from friends and neighbors before you go on a local food safari. That will make better use of the fuel you burn driving to remote locations.

  2. Ashleigh

    I second the taking orders and coming up with a way to make one trip work for several people. I know of a few people myslef that would be into that. This has been my struggle with buying local. I hate the idea of having to drive an hour for a small sack of groceries.
    I heard of a local(ish) farm that comes to Savannah and can fill orders. if I remember correctly they bring you a basket of what they have at the time. but I cant remember the name of the farm. hmmmm

  3. Betsey Brairton Post author

    Thank you. I have a call in to Heritage Farm (www.heritageorganicfarm.com) and look forward to hearing about their box program when they return from holiday break. I talked to someone at another place in Brunswick but they said their box/shares program is full and they are not taking any more participants. Once I get hooked up with a grower I do hope to collect orders from people I know who are interested as well. I am happy to go pick up, especially for several participants.

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