As you are savoring your roasted turkey, dumplings, cranberry sauce, and hot apple pie this holiday season, keep in mind the average item in the grocery store travels over 1,000 miles to your table.
Appalachia is rich in farmer’s markets and food co-operatives featuring locally grown and organic foods.
Besides being fresher and even healthier, buying local foods can be a boon to your community. As a locavore—a person who buys produce, meats and other food products from local sources—you encourage sustainable agricultural practices and support the rural heritage of Appalachia. Your purchase directly supports local farmers, giving them an
edge against the corporate competition in an already tough economy.
Many local farmers use organic farming methods, which also benefit you and your fellow locavores. Eating organically reduces your exposure to chemicals like growth hormones or antibiotics, because organically raised animals, fruits and veggies generally do not use these products. Pesticide-free farming methods keep water, soils, and air cleaner, and animals are raised on organic feed so that pesticides do not accumulate in the meat and get passed on to you. This is one of the many ways that buying locally benefits you and your community.
To find local places where you can acquire your holiday feast, visit LocalHarvest.org. This site is a database of farmer’s markets, restaurants, groceries, co-ops, and community supported agriculture where you can purchase local produce. Simply type in what you are looking for and where you are from and the site will compile a list of the places you can do your holiday shopping.
The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project also has a local food guide database at ASAPConnections.org that allows you to search for farms, natural food stores, restaurants, and other businesses that sell local foods in southern Appalachia.
If the locavore lifestyle intrigues you, take on a challenge this holiday season—try the 100-mile diet. This growing social movement involves eating foods that come from a 100-mile radius of your home. Spend the holidays supporting your local community while enriching your diet with locally grown foods.
So cut the mileage out of the meals this holiday, lower your carbon footprint and support your local community. Visit AppVoices.org/locavore to find links that will help you locate locally grown food for your holiday feast!
Pie Photo by William Hockaday