Monday, October 17, 2011

To Be, or Not To Be


That really is the question. Just recently, I had to write a comparison essay for an English class that I am taking. My choice of topic? Food of course! Well, really I compared the differences of a locavore to that of a traditional food consumer. I wanted to share this essay with you because it is something that I am passionate about. Plus, with October being unprocessed challenge month, this essay fits right in. Please understand that this essay isn’t done in my typical writing style. Normally, I’m writing to you, my readers and I address you as such. However for class, everything has to be in third person. I would really love to know what kind of eater you are? Has this essay made you think about what you buy? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Traditional, Locavore, In-between?

There is a food movement sweeping the United States. Americans have decided to take their food into their own hands locally. However, most people have never heard of the word Locavore, let alone know what one is. It is important, now more than ever, to understand the differences between a traditional food family and a Locavore family. Why? Well, most of our food has become highly processed, full of chemicals instead of real ingredients. Our food also comes from all over the world where standards are not as high as those in America. This has caused several issues with the American food supply. Just recently, for example, there was an outbreak of listerosis involving cantaloupe from a farm in Colorado ("FDA"). To make better food choices, it is important to understand the differences between a Locavore and a traditional food consumer.

Most American are traditional eaters. This basically means that they go into a grocery store, or several stores, compare prices and buy whatever looks good that day. They may go in with a list of items that they need for the week and they tend to stick to that list. They might pick up chips, soda or pop, bread, meats or vegetables, without giving a second thought to where it comes from or what ingredients are contained within. Americans are all about conveniences and therefore, they fit the traditional consumer category. Americans want fresh tomatoes in the cold winter months, or oranges in August. With traditional food shopping, there is no such thing as what is in season; almost everything is available year round for our cooking and eating pleasure.

A traditional food consumer is not concerned with the fact that the red tomatoes they pick up off the shelf didn’t start out that way. In fact, those red tomatoes were picked and loaded onto a truck or airplane when they are still green. Traditional food consumers are not concerned that those rock hard red tomatoes from the store are actually green ones that have been gassed to look red. The grocery store tomatoes do not have any flavor and often taste bad. A traditional food consumer is only concerned with the fact that tomatoes can be purchased year round for a salad or other dish. To ask a traditional food consumer where the tomato came from and the answer is likely to be unknown.

The direct opposite of a traditional eater or consumer, is a Locavore. Locavores know where the tomatoes purchased came from. Oxford dictionary defines a Locavore as “a persons whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food” (Oxford Dictionary). The term is still a little generalized as it can mean buying or eating food grown in varying distances from where a person’s home is. Some Locavores consider food grown or produced in the United States as local, while others on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, hyperlocavores, only buy or eat what comes from the neighborhood they live in (McLellan). The majority of Locavores however, eats or buys foods produced within 100 miles from where a person lives.

To be a Locavore also means to know about the community. A Locavore knows what farms have available at certain times of year. Locavores learn to can or preserve produce or how to store things properly so that the food can still be eaten during the colder months when produce isn’t available. Being a Locavore isn’t just purchasing produce locally. In most areas a Locavore can find meats, eggs, milk and cheese that are all grown, harvested and produced close to that persons home (Maiser). Since Locavores know where the food comes from, Locavores often understand that eating locally is also better for the environment as it creates less waste and great reduces a person’s carbon foot print.

Of course a person doesn’t have to be one or the other. Several people are Locavores when fruits and vegetables are in season. Locavores purchase vegetables, fruits, eggs and other goods from farmers markets or through CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), during the harvest seasons in the communities where they live. In the off season, goods are purchased from a local super market or grocery store, always being mindful of where the goods are coming from. Traditional food consumers are not concerned where the goods are coming from. Traditional consumers will eat tomatoes in winter and oranges in summer. Now that the facts have been presented it is time to decide. Is it time to continue on the path of being a traditional eater or is it time to make the change and become a Locavore, not to just become a healthier eater, but to help create a better environment as well.

"FDA warns consumers not to eat Rocky Ford Cantaloupes shipped by Jensen Farms." FDA. N.p., 14 Sep 2011. Web. 13 Oct 2011. <>.

Maiser, Jennifer. "10 Steps to Becoming a Locavore." PBS. N.p., 02 Nov 2007. Web. 13 Oct 2011. <>.

McLellan, Liz. "100 Reason."Hyperlocavore (The Blog). 20 Jan 2009. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. <>.

Oxford Dictionary. Online. Web. 13 Oct 2011. <>.

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