Eat where you live, say environmentalists

With climate change being a major problem many people want to do what they can to become more environmentally friendly. One concern is that too many emissions are being used to transport food from place to place.

The solution to the problem can be summed up by the Oxford American dictionary 2007 word of the year: locavore.

Rowe Farms is a locavore-friendly store in Toronto that opened up a month ago and only sells food grown in Ontario. The company has been around for 20 years but store manager Eyren Davis said with the locavore movement growing there was a need to open another store in Toronto.

According to Davis, a locavore is someone who only eats food that is grown locally, and right now the locavore movement is gathering steam.

She said that in Toronto there is a higher demand for stores that only sell food that was produced locally and restaurants that serve only locally grown food. She said that eating locally grown food is thought to have positive environmental, nutritional and economical benefits.

Chloe Marson, 23, has been a locavore for five years and said that knowing that she’s supporting local farmers and keeping Ontario soil well occupied is a socially and environmentally responsible thing to do. She said that locally, to her means grown in Ontario.

“The benefits to being a locavore have to do with knowing that I’m keeping the carbon footprint of my food to a minimum, knowing that I’m supporting local farmers and encouraging positive use of the land,” Marson said.

With climate change being a defining issue of this generation, more and more people are looking for ways to reduce their footprint on the environment.

Davis said that eating locally means that fewer resources are consumed getting the food from one place to another, spending is kept in the local economy and local farmers are being supported.

Marson said that some people think to be a locavore they will have to give up a lot of the foods that they enjoy eating, but she hasn’t sacrificed anything. She said that locavores can eat most of the same foods that they did before and now they taste fresher and last a lot longer. There are some exotic fruits that are not grown in Ontario but Marson said that is about the only disadvantage.

Cathy Gulkin has been a locavore for just under a year and said that to her eating locally means eating foods that were grown within 100 miles of home.

“Locally grown foods are fresher and taste way better than foods that have travelled a long way to my table. I think the locavore movement is growing at a rapid pace, so many more local farmers markets have sprung up in the past couple of years and they are all very crowded,” Gulkin said.

Davis said that Rowe Farms gets their food from 12 local farms that work to produce food solely for them. They have been very conscious of selling only local and all-natural food since the company opened. She said that there is an animal welfare standard on each farm so that each animal is treated well and allowed to run free before they are used for food.

“People want to know where their products are coming from now. I think it has a lot to do with the environment and the fact that we’re not creating emissions to get our steak from say Argentina when we can get just as good of a steak in our backyard,” Davis said.

Marson said that with all of the available options out there, it is easy to eat adapt to the locavore lifestyle.

“It’s a really small gesture buying locally, it just requires that you read labels and make thoughtful decisions when purchasing food,” Marson said.

Gulkin agrees and said all you have to do is adapt to a seasonal way of eating and plan menus after grocery shopping rather than before. She said that after a few months it doesn’t seem like a problem at all.

It is possible to buy some locally grown food at some big name grocery stores but Davis said they have a very limited selection and it is much better to go to an all-local food store.

She said that with the cutting back on the use of planes, without the week long trips of transport trucks, the reduction of gas and energy use and still being able to enjoy healthy, thoughtfully harvested goods, the locavore movement just seems to make sense.

“[The locavore movement] provides jobs for the people in your community and it’s an opportunity to do something pro-active for your local environment. It encourages a healthy lifestyle because very little of what is locally manufactured or produced is junk food,” Marson said. “It’s great for the economy, it’s even better for the environment and it’s damn good for your body.”