The Locavores of the San Francisco Bay area (www.locavores.com) define locavorism as eating food that comes from within a one-hundred-mile radius of home. Having lived there, I know the bounty and variety of sustainably raised food that can be procured within that radius—including everything from lamb to Tomales Bay Sweetwater oysters, and from goat cheese to Meyer lemons. Many locales are much more limited when it comes to locally-produced food, so I prefer to think of the radius as more of an ellipse that can wobble this way and that, embracing the cherries or chicken from a bit farther afield.
Here’s an example of the ellipse philosophy in practice. When we lived in Chestertown, Maryland, I belonged to a food co-op. Once a month, we’d unload cases of food in Jenn Hicks’ garage, and divide it up. One item I always purchased was chicken. This was not just any chicken, but the most chickeny tasting chicken, which was sustainably raised by the Amish community in the region. I dream about the taste of that chicken. Here in Auburn, I haven’t been able to find local chicken, so I stretch my locavore-ellipse to reach Springer Mountain Farms in Georgia, 190 miles away. Their chicken is delicious and sustainably raised; the farm is also the first chicken farm in the world to be certified by the American Humane Association. It is worth those extra food-miles.
Another kind of stretch, or trade-off, can be made for local food that isn’t certified organic. For example, Auburn University’s meat sciences program runs a shop, behind which is a sloping green hill where black steers stand around munching grass and swishing their tails. The shop sells grassfed beef, pork and student-made spicy pork sausage, and eggs. None of these products are certified organic by the USDA, but they couldn’t get much more local. My house is about a mile away.
It’s strawberry season in southern Georgia, so I stretched my ellipse yesterday when I bought a pint of organic berries at my local natural food store, Dayspring. The strawberries came from Miles Berry Farm, in Baxley, Georgia, about 240 miles away from Auburn. To hear more about these berries check out my strawberry post.