If you’re tired of getting limp, tasteless ingredients from the grocery store, you might want to become a locavore convert. No, locavores won’t start showing up at your door with pamphlets and wide smiles. Instead, it’s a relatively niche lifestyle that focuses on eating locally. And if you’ve tasted a freshly plucked fruit or veggie, you know just how much of a religious experience it can be.
Locavore feels like a word that would’ve come out of the late 2010s climate movement, but it has been in the works for a few years now. New Oxford American Dictionary even named it the 2007 Word of the Year.
Going off the name, you might think locavores have something to do with trains, but it’s actually a self-identifier to describe someone who’s trying to eat a locally based diet. So, as a locavore, you try to source as many local ingredients as possible to make your meals.
8 Tips for Living a Locavore Lifestyle
If you’re a 5 a.m. farmer’s market person, then locavorism sounds like a dream. But anyone who wants to break free from preservatives and the big grocery industry and support local farmers can get in on the action. If you’re new to locavorism and don’t know where to get started, we’ve got eight tips to help you take the leap.
Make Friends With Local Farmers
If you’re shopping locally, you might as well bypass the grocery store and head straight to the source — the farmers and gardeners. Look into the farms in your area and go visit. Similarly, become a farmer’s market regular (if you have one nearby) and connect with local growers that way. Once you have a relationship with them, you’ll be able to reach out and establish a steady buying stream.
Participate in Community Gardens
Investigate if there are any community gardens nearby that you could start participating in. A community garden is a shared garden space where people tend their designated plot and yield their own harvests. If you live in an apartment complex or a home with poor soil, a community garden lets you still grow your own fresh ingredients. And if you’re new to gardening, having other gardeners that you can turn to for tips and tricks is a huge perk.
Start a Garden at Home
Not everyone can till and tend a garden at home, but if you have enough space to do so, it’s a great option for locavores. You can’t predict local farmers’ harvests, and if you like unique ingredients that aren’t grown around you, a home garden is a must. You control what you plant and how they’re grown, so you’ll know every stage of the life of the things you eat.
However, if you can’t till your land and don’t have the space for a hay bale garden, then you can always set up pots of plants to grow indoors. There are a ton of herbs you can grow in pots on your windowsill and veggies you can grow inside. Leafy greens like spinach, carrots, tomatoes, and lemons are just some things you can grow inside your four walls. If you live in a food desert and don’t have access to nearby farmers, indoor cultivation can be a lifesaver.
Plan Meals With Seasonal Ingredients
When you’re planning to transition into locavorism, you need to reframe how you plan your meals. Eating locally means that you’re at the mercy of what’s in season, and it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with what time of the year different veggies and fruits are harvested.
So start planning your recipe books in quarters. You’ll want to have recipes that you can immediately pull from to make the most of the ingredients you get that week. And if you plan ahead, you won’t have any trouble putting all your ingredients to use.
Get the Right Kind of Cookbooks
Whenever you’re switching up what you eat, it’s a great idea to look for cookbooks that specifically deal with your new dietary specifications. Look for recipe books that detail fresh ingredient-heavy contents and not preserved ingredients like canned foods.
From Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors to Marilou K. Suszko’s The Locavore’s Kitchen: A Cook’s Guide to Seasonal Eating and Preserving, there are way more locavore-friendly cookbooks than you’d expect.
Learn to Can & Preserve
When you’re eating locally, you’re at the mercy of the fruits and vegetables that are available during each season. Instead of getting tired of the same ingredients every week, discover the wonderful world of canning and preserving.
An age-old tradition, canning and preserving lets you store fresh ingredients for months on end. That way, you can still enjoy your tomatoes or okra once they’ve gone out of season.
Don’t know where to start? Try Ball’s (yup, that mason jar company) guide on canning food.
Get a Deep Freezer for Bulk Meats
If you don’t have a butcher nearby where you can buy custom cuts of meat, your next best option might be to buy animals in bulk. This can look like halves or quarters of whole butchered animals, and while they’ll work in a pinch, they’re not exactly fridge sized. So, it’s a good idea to invest in a deep freezer to store your extra meats in.
Find Restaurants That Serve Local
Sometimes, you just want to have a freshly cooked meal that you didn’t spend an hour prepping yourself. But you don’t have to toss your lifestyle out the window just to enjoy some hot meals at the nearest restaurants. Instead, take some time to find restaurants that serve food with locally sourced ingredients. That way, you’ve got a short-list of places to eat out when meal prepping just isn't in the cards and you’ve got a craving for someone else’s delicious food.
Livin’ La Vida Local
There’s literally no flavor comparison between big-box grocery store ingredients and fresh, local ones. And you don’t have to be a legacy farmer to get in on the locavore action. Instead, start livin’ la vida local with these tips today.