“A locavore is a person interested in eating food that is locally produced, not moved long distances to market. The locavore movement in the United States and elsewhere was spawned as interest in sustainability and eco-consciousness became more prevalent.” (Wikipedia).
I’ve just finished reading this book and my mind is still reeling with all the information, stories and people the author, Sarah Elton, wrote about. Sarah Elton begins the book by writing about a cookie her daughter brings home from a party. While reading the ingrediants on the back, Ms. Elton learns that the cookie was made in China, not a local bakery as she’d assumed. This begins her journey of exploring how people across Canada are farming, selling and cooking food they or others close by, raise and grow.
Elton focuses mainly on Canada with a few examples drawn from the US. She begins in New Brunswick with several families struggling to make ends meet while solely relying on a farm income to live on. She is able to show their struggles and their passion for the food and way of life they live. Elton moves her way across Canada, East to West, focusing each chapter on the different provinces and regions our diverse country has. She touches on Quebec’s hand crafted cheese industry, Ontario’s movement towards agriculture programs for second careerists and internships. Then she heads to Saskatchewan to explore the wheat industry and the revival of Red Fife Wheat, finally landing in BC where she explores restaurants that proclaim their support for local farmers across their menus.
Sustainability is part of the conversation Sarah Elton has in this book. The idea that the food grown, bought, sold and eaten locally must also be done sustainably is explored as well. There is talk of organics although I felt it was done in a peripheral way. But she did go into gardening/farming in urban settings, greenhouses and what the future of that might look like. I felt as though sustainability could have been a bigger part of the book, however, it may have changed the intention of the book.
Another notion that is posited, is that when we choose to eat locally most of the time, it does allow us to make choices from the global food market on occasion. Avocados are her example of eating from a global market. It’s unlikely they will be grown here in Canada, but if most of our food is sourced from our communities or provinces, then purchasing the odd product that has traveled thousands of miles is less of an impact. Given that we have all become accustomed to eating a wide variety of food due to easier modes of transportation, immigration and globalization in general, removing those foods from our diets is just not reasonable.
I felt as though Elton’s purpose was to bring attention to the movement and provoke thought, discussion and consciousness of the issues and that she did a good job of bringing to light questions and different aspects of the locavore movement. In general it has caused me to contemplate my food choices, where I succeed and where improvement is more than possible. I’m not going to stop buying from the global market, there’s just too many things that I enjoy eating that don’t come from Ontario, let alone Canada. However I am interested in investing more time and sweat-energy in producing my own food and/or purchasing from local farmers. I will also spend more time looking at the signage around my grocery store and visiting farmer’s markets.
Have you changed the way you purchase food? Do you prefer to support your local farms?