What . . .
is local food?
are food miles?
is a locavore?
does sustainable mean?
Top 10 foods to . . .
grow at home
Eating Your Veggies:
Not As Good For You?
Food miles are
less important to
Food That Travels Well
to Pay Premium
for Locally Grown Food
How to Pick a Peach
by Russ Parsons
Miracle: A Year of
by Barbara Kingsolver
The Taste of Place
by Amy Trubek
word that translates as terrain, land or 'sense of place' and is used to
embody how a region's climate, terrain, soil, and often too, way of life,
produce a variety of foods with particular characteristics that cannot be
found elsewhere. Initially used, and still used to this day, terroir
is key to describing and denoting a variety of wines - like Burgundy and
Over the years, terroir has expanded across the European Union to include
regulatory descriptions of not only wine, but also coffee, tea, olive
oils, butters, cheeses, meats, honeys and breads. Terroir is also affected
by the human decisions and farming techniques that create the final
Terroir offers an opportunity to protect and savor our food's cultural
heritage and promote local foods based on it's uniqueness and taste. While
we're familiar with prosciutto, balsamic vinegar and parmesan cheese -
regional foods protected by terroir standards in Europe, the United States
is well on it's way to establishing terroir with protections of the big
names we have in Vermont maple syrup, Vidalia onions from Georgia, Idaho
potatoes and Florida oranges.
But terroir is more than a marketing ploy - it is at its most effective
when a small farm brings its wares to a local market tent and shares their
story with a customer one on one.
is most often available through farmers markets, home or community
gardens, hometown grocery stores and through farm subscriptions known as
CSA's - or community supported agriculture. If you look at local food as a
movement, it represents an opportunity to get back to our roots and
eliminate the need for obtaining our food after it has passed through the
chain of producers, wholesalers, shippers and commercial retailers.
It can be
argued, and our tastebuds can confer, that local food tastes infinitely
better, especially when we're selecting foods that have minimal human
processing such as vegetables, fruits, meat, eggs and poultry. The
caveat to this better taste comes at a cost to shelf-life, but it is a
sacrifice that is worth it. Major supporters of local food feel that
creating a local food economy is a movement that will ultimately have a
major impact on the well-being of a community.
Defining 'local' - in terms of an area - can be
a difficult task and is often left to personal interpretation. Is
local next door, down the street, or a day's drive away? Still
others consider local by a state's borders, and even wider by a region
that shares a climate and soil characteristics - like the South, Midwest
or New England. With this latter view, local becomes a key part of
defining terroir and can help promote and protect foodways and traditions.
Supporters of local food talk a lot about food miles, even to the point of
trying to get foods labeled as to how far it took them to reach market.
This is not only a matter of freshness, but a look at the big picture as
to how food is impacting our environment. In simplest terms, the longer a
food travels, the more fuel and energy it has expended. But, recent
studies contradict this simple assumption. Why? Because how the food is
raised must also be considered - and in some cases, this factor
creates more of a carbon footprint than sending food across the seas. It's
been found that reducing our carbon foot print, when it comes to food, can
be more easily done by eating less meat and more fruits and vegetables.
If you try to source as much of your food as possible from a 50, 100 or
150 mile radius, you can probably call yourself a locavore. The
radius is arbitrary, as most locavores are simply persons who prefer to
eat locally grown and produced food because of it's quality and taste.
These are the consumers who do more of their weekly grocery shopping at
the farmers markets on the weekend.
2007, the Oxford American Dictionary named locavore as their word of the
Choosing sustainable foods is a movement unto itself, and while it
does often tie into sourcing local foods and preserving terroir,
sustainability incorporates a wide range of concerns including food
additives, air pollution, animal welfare; antibiotic, pesticide and
hormone use; preserving heirloom varieties and biodiversity in our plants
and animals; the affects and effects of climate change; the environmental
effects and economics relating to family farms and factory farms; food
safety including irradiation; how much fuel and energy is expended to
produce and transport food; eliminating cloning and genetic engineering;
ensuring that 'organic' does not become just a marketing strategy or
label; whether food is processed humanely; reducing waste and pollution;
and even, finding opportunities to eliminate poverty and hunger.