For the seventh week in the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, I read The Locavore's Handbook by Leda Meredith.
The idea of eating locally interests me. Living in Minnesota it is more challenging than, say, living in a more temperate climate year-round. However, this book has ideas for those wanting to eat more local yet who live in more challenging climates.
Some things I found interesting in the book:
- Buying 25 percent of your groceries from local farmers for a year lowers your carbon footprint by 225 pounds - even more than recycling glass, plastic, and cans. (Eating Well Magazine, February 2009).
- Children who will never see a firefly because that species is threatened by pesticide spraying aimed at other insects...much of that spraying is done on behalf of industrial agriculture.
- In the United States, food travels an average of 1,500 mils from farm to plate.
- The gradual disappearance of small family farms over the past few decades has had a devastating effect on local economies and landscapes.
- What you eat for lunch can make a real difference in the world.
- When eating local, do a list of exemptions and rules that you can live with (e.g., salt and pepper don't have to be local).
- The cells in our bodies completely replace themselves every seven years. If I kept up with my local foods diet, soon I would literally be made out of the place where I live.
- The Dirty Dozen: The fruits and vegetables that have the most pesticide residue when conventionally grown: apples, bell peppers, carrots, celery, cherries, kale, lettuce, grapes (imported), nectarines, peaches, pears, and strawberries.
- Whenever possible choose produce that is local and organic. When you have to choose between local and organic, if it's on the dirty dozen list, choose organic because of health risks. If it's not on that list, then choose local because of the lower carbon footprint.
- The shorter the time from harvest to eating, the fewer nutrients are lost. Food that has traveled thousands of miles and sat on a store shelf for days has less nutritional value than its recently-picked local counterpart.
- 96% of commercial vegetables varieties have gone extinct in the past 100 years. Choose heirloom varieties that aren't suitable for conventional agriculture. Each variety has unique flavors that will be lost to us forever unless those varieties are kept viable.
- Small organic farms restore and revitalize their soils rather than deplete them as conventional farming does. They also protect the green spaces adjacent to the farmed fields, providing habitat for wildlife.
- Ways to eat local: grow or forage your own; go to u-pick farms; join a community supported agriculture farm; and go to specialty stores and cheese mongers that sell local cheese.
- Try a worm composting system using your kitchen scraps.
- Use horse manure that has aged. It's an excellent fertilizer.
- Dandelions were intentionally introduced to North America by Europeans as a source of food and medicine.
- Get "green bags" at www.greenbags.com that release the natural gases that fresh produce gives off. In regular store, these gases cause fruits and vegetables to either ripen or rot. By moving the gases away from the produce, the food stays fresh for days or weeks longer than it would otherwise.
- Buy meat from a farmer (e.g., half a cow, pig).
- Carry a healthy, local snack in your bag so that you're not tempted to purchase something that's not local.
- Carry reusable bags for unplanned trips to the market. Cuts down on the use of plastic bags.
- When you get produce home, wash and dry it before putting it away.
- Start and maintain a list for contents in your freezer and pantry.