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Eating Local Foods and Produce: 6 Tips to Become a Locavore

written by: Lindsay Evans•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 3/2/2010

Eating locally-grown food supports local farmers, cuts fuel emissions, and provides your family with the freshest food available. Learn more about the locavore movement and how to find food within your local area.

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    The locavore movement is gaining momentum. As Oxford dictionary's word of the year for 2007, a locavore is someone who strives to fill their diet with locally-grown food.

    This trend of eating local foods and produce is a very good one for us all. Consuming local food may be even more socially and environmentally friendly than choosing organic food from a large supermarket. Produce, whether conventional or organic, usually travels from locales such as California, Florida, or foreign countries to reach your plate. All the fuel used in transportation (including keeping the food cool to stay fresh) can be avoided by choosing local food over food grown far away.

    Below are some tips to help you become a locavore by finding produce, meat, dairy, and grain from local sources.

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    Tip #1: Frequent Your Farmer's Market

    Visiting your local farmer's market is your first step toward becoming a locavore. Keep your eye out for not only fresh fruits and vegetables but as many local foods as you can find. Look for dairy products, eggs, honey, grains, dry beans, meats, herbs, teas, and soy products. If you need a bouquet of fresh flowers, some dried fruit for snacking, a bar of soap, or some candles, find them at your farmer's market.

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    Tip #2: Get to Know Your Farmers

    During your frequent trips to the farmer's market, introduce yourself to your favorite vendors and learn about their farms. If they offer a farm tour make it a priority to go and see where your food comes from. Bring the whole family!

    If you have trouble locating farms in your area, search for local growers at localharvest.org.

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    Tip #3: Don't be Afraid to Barter and Trade

    Bartering for mutually needed goods has a real place in modern locavore society. Trading goods builds community and takes no extraneous energy or packaging. Could you volunteer a few hours labor per week in exchange for some produce? Maybe the farm could use your web skills to market their products in return for a CSA share. Offer to help and see what happens.

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    Tip #4: Buy Foods In Season or Join a CSA

    Fresh strawberries in the middle of January have no place in the locavore diet. Instead, become knowledgeable about what foods are harvested during which months in your area and stock up on what's fresh. Eating in season tastes delicious and you will soon lose your craving for those tasteless Mexican strawberries. Dine on fresh greens in the spring, tomatoes and basil during the summer, roasted root vegetables in the fall, and hearty bean and beef stew in the winter.

    By joining a local community supported agriculture program you will be guaranteed an ample amount of the freshest locally-grown food all season long. Learn how to find a local CSA here.

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    Tip #5: Grow Your Own Food

    Plant your own garden and eat as local as you can get! If you do not have an established garden plot read up on soil amending and garden prep to get things started. Join a community garden if you don't have the space to grow food on your own property.

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    Tip #6: Preserve the Harvest

    Canning, drying, and freezing summer-fresh foods for winter eating is an important step to ensure your local diet can last throughout the year. Learn basic canning skills, how to sun-dry foods, and the best foods to freeze. An electric dehydrator can be a big help to stock up on dried fruits, dried tomatoes, and fruit leathers.