I first heard this term sometime last year when visiting New York. Come to find out the term had been in use for quite some time in the Western world, but had not yet migrated to Asia. But the idea of locavore fascinated me – basically it is someone who eats locally within a certain radius, e.g. 50 miles, 200 miles. Adapted from the word carnivore (one who eats meats) and herbivore (one who eats vegetables), a locavore is committed to consuming only what is naturally within reach and by extension, this also means eating only what is in season. It’s as if the idea of sustainability, seasonal eating and local farming were all rolled up into one. Brilliant!
What I find most fascinating (or ironic) about this concept, is that this is how my grandparents grew up. There were no strawberries imported from Chile in the winter months, no perfect-looking yet flavourless tomatoes all year round in the supermarket, no imported New Zealand lamb…one just ate what was available when it was available. An international cold storage supply chain had not yet been invented that would transport anything to anywhere in the world. I don’t know about you, but this just seems downright sensible to me.
Beyond the fact that there is a carbon footprint for everything we eat and do (OK – we travel a lot, so I don’t want to get on too high a horse), eating locally just tastes better. Growing up in North Carolina, there was nothing better than peach season where on the roadside local farmers would sell bushels of peaches – you have never had a more perfect peach. And when living in New York, everyone looked forward to the season for New Jersey tomatoes – it made you never want to eat another mealy out of season hydroponic specimen again. And on country weekends in Connecticut, we used to buy bacon and pork roasts from a local pig farm –you can absolutely taste the difference. Ever had farm fresh cheese? You’ll never even look at processed cheese again. After recent decades of eating things with infinite shelf lives in plastic wrappers, I find myself just wanting the real, fresh food of my youth.
And beyond the quality and taste issue, there is an economic issue. If you haven’t watched the movie Food Inc, please do. They take 91 minutes to make some very convincing points. But for me the key takeaway was, we as consumers can direct the development and growth of organic and local farming. The almighty dollar speaks louder than any letter to your congressman or blog article such as this. As is the basic nature of economics, supply will rise up to meet demand. So if we each as individuals choose to buy local and / or organic produce, we are directing the future of farming and food retail. It’s as simple as that.
Unfortunately for us living in Singapore, there is no significant local agriculture to speak of. We live in an island, country, city, state of 26 miles in length, or about 3.5x the size of Washington D.C. In America, the USDA has defined “local” to extend to a maximum of a 400 maximum mile radius. While this seems appropriate for the US, it doesn’t always work as well in SE Asia. So instead in Singapore we try to buy most of our foods from Singapore when possible or imported from Malaysia, 187 miles or 300km away.
It does not always work out, but we try as much as we can. And you should too. Eating locavore is good for you, good for the community and over time will certainly prove good for the local economies and the world in which we live.Pin It