Garden, Plant, Cook!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

What really is a LOCAVORE -- Hint: Grandma knew her green grocer and dairyman -- as her neighbors and friends

Dear Folks,

Are you a locavore? Simply put a locavore is someone who makes the conscious decision to purchase goods and produce grown, made or produced within 100 miles of their home.


A simple answer is that "seasonal" (as opposed to out of season) vegetables, herbs and fruit, for instance, are more nutritious, better tasting and therefore better for you and your family than produce which has to be picked green and transported great distances to your chain market.

But the larger answer is what you are doing for "your" community by supporting locally- owned businesses including farmers.

Tucson author Barbara Kingsolver moved back to her native Appalachia, to go natural and wrote about it in "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" (HarperCollins) -- I really like a comment she made to a reviewer: "However, for me to go to the store and buy bags of organic spinach that have been shipped here in a truck from California--in a refrigerated truck, I might add--is just burning a lot of gasoline."

I only disagree with Kinsolver on the idea that you can't have a sustainable garden in your backyard here in the valley, you can and yes it does take proper water management, but that is a topic I will address in another blog.

To locate farmers markets in your area the USDA maintains a site - click on the state and a pdf file comes up with markets listed by city.

For Arizona only Farmers Markets here is a special link:

A source for finding other local sources of food is Local Harvest. They have teamed up with the Slow Foods folks.

The Slow Foods Movement started to get folks back to the dinner table -- with family -- with real food -- for real family time.

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If you look at the real cost of buying "picked-green, inter state/country transported produce, and taking supplements to make up for nutrient deficiencies," your local farmer and farmers market produce is cheap!

A thought on the nutrition aspect: if your food is seasonal (superior nutrition), and picked ripe as opposed to green (superior nutrition), you and your family will have less or no need for supplements. Something to keep in mind.

Supporting other local businesses also keeps more of YOUR spending dollars in YOUR community. Current analysis shows about .45 cents of every shopping dollar stays in your community when bought from locally owned / locally produced versus only .13 if you buy from the out-of-state-owned chains.

A further thought from the whole concept of 'greening' up your life -- my more recent reading and researching on issues of greening, making more purchasing decisions on the basis of sustainability, less environmental impact, etc. -- has me rethinking my decisions about what and where something is actually produced/grown.

An example is bamboo. I think the many uses of bamboo (it is not the kind that is needed for the endangered panda bears) from furniture to clothing, is fascinating. The plants used can grow 80 feet in 40 days!!!

Amazing, and you think wow, now there is a sustainable product. And then you see a news story about where that product comes from and how it is transported. Most of this bamboo comes from China, and has to be transported, by steam ship, across thousands of miles to reach processing facilities in the US. I have to ask myself, is there real environmental savings here? Can this kind of bamboo be grown in southern areas of the US on land not useful for food crops? I don't have all the answers, just more questions.

Bottom line -- I encourage you to think about making more purchasing decisions based on how close the production source is to you. You support local businesses, keep more of "that" income in your community, and you get to know who produces the things and food you use -- kind of like how Grandma knew her green grocer and dairyman -- as her neighbors and friends.

More Information:

Edible Phoenix is a print magazine, produced quarterly and is part of the edible communities organization.

Find the current issue at your local farmers market or go on line to:

To find publications for other areas of the country go to:


Here is the place to start when looking for locally owned businesses. Began as "Arizona Chain Reaction" to focus on locally owned businesses, this non-profit group encourages support of your neighbors and friends who own businesses in Arizona. Check out their site.

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Personalized branding iron for grilling. Here is the perfect custom gift for the hard to please griller in the family. I ordered one for my darling for Christmas and he loved it. Start a tradition and create your own family brand! 480-330-3619

San Dominique Winery, Arizona's oldest continuously operated family winery, is also home to garlic paradise. Bill Staltari, cellarmaster and chef, is owner and creator of award winning wines and gourmet specialty foods. Visit his website to order the gourmet foods shipped anywhere in the US. Wine is available only at the Winery, located approximately 9 miles north of Cordes Junction. Have a lovely afternoon at San Dominique (the patio has a view of the Bradshaws), sample wines and other goodies, purchase wines and foods to go and have Lunch!

Another great locally owned and produced Arizona farmer is Kathy Marshall and her goats' milk lotions and soaps made with the milk of her dairy goat herd. You can also find Kathy at the Mesa Farmers market (and other locations). You might even catch her when she has some of her free- range chicken eggs for sale -- but they go fast!

Neighbors helping neighbors -- support and enhance your community - your purchasing dollar has more power than you think.

Be a good neighbor and friend and buy from your neighbors and friends

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady