Guess what? I’ve been keeping a little secret (ok, a big secret) and I’m super excited to finally spill the beans! For the last several months I’ve been hard at work planning a community-wide program that revolves around our core values – saving money, eating healthy and buying local. The program is called Locavore90 and I’m thrilled to finally be able to share it with you!
Locavore90 is a FREE program that challenges and equips families in Southwest Michigan to eat a locavore (local-only) diet for 90 days (or as often as possible). Southwest Michigan already has a fabulous culture of local eating! The goal of this program is to spread that message even farther, as well as to give tips, tricks and support to those who are already eating local but want to do it more or for less money.
So here are some questions you might be asking:
- Yikes… won’t that be a lot of work?
- What is a locavore?
- Why in the world would I want to be a locavore?
- How does Locavore90 work?
So glad you asked…
What is a Locavore
A locavore is a person who eats a local-only diet. For purposes of the Locavore90 Challenge, local-only means food raised within 100 miles of your home. (For more details – and exceptions to the 100 mile rule – click here to read our family’s Locavore Commitments.) A locavore also eats food that is in season. That means no watermelon in May. Why would you give up watermelon in May? So glad you asked… read on to find out.
Why Would I Want to be a Locavore?
Being a Locavore isn’t for everyone. It’s only for those who are concerned about health, who love great tasting food, who want to save money on groceries, would like to contribute to environmental health and love to see their local communities thriving economically.
Here are six great reasons to eat a local-only diet as much as possible.
- Food Tastes Better. There’s no denying that food harvested at the peak of freshness tastes better. Many eaters also believe that naturally grown (organic) food tastes better than the alternative. A naturally grown, in-season tomato will always taste worlds better than a cardboard counterfeit shipped from out of state in April.
- Food is More Nutritious. After produce is harvested, something begins to happen: It loses nutritional value – dramatically. The older your produce is, the more nutrients it has lost. Locally grown food was likely harvested within the last 24 hours so it comes to you as a more nutritionally complete food than anything from California ever could.
- Food is More Varied. Local farmers are not bound to produce only varieties that will sell well at Wal-Mart or that can travel long distances before spoiling. As such, you’ll discover tasty delights at the farmers market you never even knew existed… and soon won’t be able to live without.
- You Save Money. Produce is always less expensive when it is in season. When you add buying in bulk to buying in season, you have potential save good money on good food. Many farmers will give you great discounts when you buy in bulk or buy frequently as a regular customer. We’ll give you tips and tricks to help you stretch your local-only dollar.
- The Local Economy is Sustained. According to Eat Local First, on average, produce purchased from chain stores results in 15 cents reinvested into the community for every dollar spent. When you buy directly from local growers or stores which stock from local sources, that amount increases to 45 cents for every dollar. That’s 30% better for the Southwest Michigan economy.
- The Southwest Michigan Environment is Helped. Many small farms have sustainable practices that focus on improving soil fertility and habitats, as well as eliminating the use of pesticides. These practices can have a dramatic impact on our water sources. In addition, buying local reduces our collective carbon footprint because food travels shorter distances from farmer to consumer (and skips a lot of transfers in between!).
How Does Locavore90 Work?
Even if you can’t make the entire 90 days, making a commitment to a local diet in smaller ways can still have a positive impact on your health and your community.
Step 1: Join
To join, simply enter your email address in the Join Locavore90 box on our website (Click here and look in the right-hand column). You’ll get lots of support, including monthly meal plans, recipes, information about local sources for food, info on great deals to save you money and tips for preserving in-season produce so you can include more local foods into your diet after 90 days. We’re starting the challenge on June 2, 2013 but you can absolutely join us even after that date.
Step 2: Create Your L90 Commitments
Locavore90 is meant to be challenging without being burdensome. We realize that the balance between those two points is different for each family so I’ve designed the program to allow you to make your own rules called Commitments. You Locavore90 Commitments are the guidelines your family pledges to follow with the goal of incorporating more local foods into your diet. Click here to get started. (Don’t worry –your Commitments are private!)
Step 3: Do It!
Before each month begins, you’ll receive a meal plan for the entire month via email. The meal plan takes the guess work out of what’s in season and how to prepare it. Meals are family-friendly. (If I can find the time, I’m also hoping to create a foodie-friendly meal plan for those of you who are a bit more adventurous about what you eat!) If you don’t like what we’ve picked, you can select a substitute recipe from the online library. I’ll also share tips on local sources and ways to save money.
Step 4: Relax
You’ll receive tons of support to help you keep your Locavore90 commitments (including the opportunity to join a Locavore90 Facebook group if you want). But at the end of the day, the only person keeping track of your progress is you (and probably your family). No pressure.
After 30, 60 and 90 days, be sure to reward yourself! You’re doing something great for your health and your community. I’m not promising that you won’t miss watermelon in June, but you will be reaping all the benefits of eating in-season and your tastebuds will thank you for it!
Won’t That Be a Lot of Work?
I’ve invested a lot of time into developing a program that takes the guesswork out of local eating and that does a good chunk of the planning up front for you. But even with that being the case, eating local is likely to mean a change to your routine. You might have to drive somewhere to pick your milk up for the week… you might build weekly trips to the farmers market into your weekend… you might start using a meal plan where before you’ve always just decided on your drive home what you’ll make for dinner. The thought of making these changes might make you groan at first thought, but I think the health, taste and community benefits will make you feel good about it before long. And remember, YOU set the pace. YOU track yourself. No pressure.
And heck, you might even grow to like weekly farmers market visits… I know I do!
Are You In?
Locavore90 officially kicks off on June 2, 2013. (If you sign up now you’ll get the meal plan before June begins. The Recipe Library will debut around the same time.) Before then, I’m hoping to spread the word about this program and get as many people on board as possible. I’ll also be doing some prep work through this blog talking about local sources not only for fruits and veggies, but also sustainably raised meat, eggs, milk, cheese and any other food stuff I can track down! We’ll be talking about what’s in season, where to buy, how to preserve it and so much more. And as you might expect, I’ll be sharing our family’s personal Locavore90 journey with you per my usual transparent fashion. It’s going to be a great summer and I hope you’ll help me by sharing about Locavore90 on Facebook, Twitter and over coffee with your friends. Are you in?
Did you enjoy this article? Visit www.arcadia-farms.net for more info on eating healthy, saving money and buying locally.