You may have read that a locavore’s aim is to have all or most of their diet consist of locally grown food. Some may rigidly stick to that definition, but we think just about everyone is already a bit of a locavore, be it a dabbler or a die hard. With a few new ideas, we hope that everyone can get more involved with their local food system.
Whatever your aspirations, being a locavore doesn’t mean 100% commitment 100% of the time. As with anything there are shades of gray! Taking part in your local food system might include eating local strawberries once a year, stopping in at your local farmers' market, trying your hand at growing a tomato plant, foraging something edible nearby, or eating locally produced food from a nearby farms or your own yard. To us, being a locavore doesn't mean absolute dedication just some participation!
Regardless of how much of a locavore you are, there are always new and exciting things to try out to keep things fresh (pun intended) and exciting! Here are some ideas:
Attending a farmers' market is a great activity and you don’t even need to buy anything. Just attending shows your support and you’ll have access to local food and homemade goods if you decide to spend some money. You can also sign up as a volunteer at your local farmers' market to show your support and get involved. [Note: due to public health restrictions, many markets are closed. However, it's possible to place contact-free orders online for Memorial Centre Farmers' Market.]
Instead of going to a chain supermarket, stop by a locally owned grocer. Their prices can be more competitive than you’d expect (depending on the item) and they often carry more locally produced food items. This isn’t to say you can’t find local food at chain supermarkets. Keep your eyes peeled for locally produced items wherever you shop!
Have a meal at a restaurant or cafe that serves some locally produced food. This doesn’t have to be expensive - your local pub or diner may have a local beef burger or use local greens in a salad when they’re in season.
A garlic festival, for example, can be a great way to find a bunch of producers of a particular item and sample their offerings. Don’t be surprised if those producers also grow other things, too, so be sure to ask!
Farm Visits and Pick Your Own
If you have access to a bike or vehicle, you can probably make it out to a nearby farm. Many farms (like berry, apple, pumpkin) offer “pick your own” days when their produce is in season. Organized farm visit days are also popular in our area and allow you to visit a number of farms on the day of the event to get a feel for what’s available near you. Also, some farmers don’t mind you stopping by on a quiet day - just be sure to ask first!
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
CSAs are great for you and great for farmers! The farmer gets some guaranteed income that they can use to expand their operation and you get a share of their produce. With most CSAs, you’ll get a lush basket of fresh vegetables each week of the growing season. Some farmers offer prepaid credit programs where you get to pick out a bit more produce than you paid for throughout the season because you made your investment up front. Either way, you often get much more than you paid for versus buying items a la carte.
Tired of mowing your lawn? Turn it into a productive oasis! Add in a vegetable garden, food forest, pollinator plants, or some raised beds and your former lawn will start making more food than you had ever imagined. The best part is that you control exactly how it’s grown. Go full permaculture on that lawn and you can have a low maintenance garden of perennials that produce more food every year without much work! Don't have any outdoor space? Sign up for a plot at your local community garden!
Indoor Growing / Microgreens
Live in an apartment? No problem! Try starting an herb garden on a sunny windowsill in some spare glass jars. Not enough light? Grow lights are more affordable than ever before and enable you to grow food year round. Microgreens are fast and easy to grow, and you can venture into herbs, full grown greens, and other more substantial vegetables. When growing indoors you don’t have to worry about pesky critters eating up your precious plants!
Mulch and Compost
This option doesn’t lead directly to food but is participating in your local food system nonetheless. Gardeners frequently use mulch (think fallen sticks, leaves, and other plant matter) and compost (think decayed vegetable matter) in their gardens to enrich the soil. By just throwing your yard and kitchen waste into a bin in your back yard, you can create incredibly rich compost that can be used to grow super nutritious food. Try it out!
Once you discover foraging, you’ll might never look back! You get to enjoy some quality time outdoors while finding tasty and super nutritious food. Be sure to do your homework, though, as you don’t want to eat the wrong thing! That being said, many foraged foods (mushrooms aside) are quite easy to identify. White pine, cedar, juniper berries, wild blackberries and strawberries, wild asparagus, wintergreen, and chestnuts are probably things you already know about but haven’t thought to look for. Get out there and explore!
Hopefully we've shown you that being a locavore isn’t as daunting as it seems. You don’t even need to spend any money! We hope to see you at the local market or poking around a nearby green space or forest with a foraging book from the library in hand!