Eat Like a Locavore

Featured in the October 2016 Issue of Gig Harbor Living Local

Health + food security in our communities.

By Brett Marlo DeSantis

Whether you prefer to shop at by visiting your local farm or visiting farmers markets or you food garden at home, you are already contributing to the local food movement. Perhaps you choose to practice urban or wild foraging or even guerrilla gardening, (keep in mind that some of these practices may be illegal in many places), you are already eating like a locavore!

According to the definition adopted by the U.S. Congress in the 2008 Farm Act, the total distance that a product can be transported and still be considered a locally or regionally produced agricultural food products is less than 400 miles from its origin, or within the State in which it is produced.

Is there a link between our human-made structures, food access and availability? Absolutely! We rely upon our built environment such as homes, workplaces, streets and open spaces for access to food. Rural, suburban, urban farming, Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), P-Patches and neighborhood sharing all rely upon the physical design of our communities. How does a community promote health through the built environment? One such way is to create a regional food hub.

For those of us living in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia this is what the Cascadia region would look like.

The National Good Food Network defines a food hub as a business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand. Can you think of a good location for a regional food hub in your area? How can we support local and regional food production through our infrastructure? In what ways do we develop our planning, zoning and urban infrastructure to support our local food systems? When you consider ways to increase access to local food, do you envision more local food retailers and corner stores so you may walk or bike to your neighborhood market? Would prefer your workplace to participate in local food delivery service or create a potluck calendar? Have you asked your favorite restaurants what local food they carry on their menu?

Pike Place Market in Seattle is a great hub for locally grown food and products.

We are in a time of extraordinary opportunity. The local food movement brings us great hope for a healthier, more sustainable and prosperous future to: produce, access, secure and consume good and healthy food. For food is not only the basis of our health but it is also at the basis of traditions, customs and culture that bind us together as family and community.

Paraphrased from Jim Cochran and Larry Yee of Food Commons 2.0:

We, as community members, play a big role in forming local solutions through local action. Through collaboration, we will all benefit as local food is: full of flavor, has more nutrients, supports our local economy, and promotes a safer food supply. The community food-security movement seeks to enhance access to safe, healthy, and culturally appropriate food for all consumers. Whatever mode of local sourcing you favor; the farm to table concept includes the story behind the food: the physical beauty of farmlands and open spaces, the creation of habitat and fertile soil; cultivating relationships between us, the land, pollinators and the people in our communities who plant these seeds.