A locavore (the term is a neologism) is a person interested in eating food that is locally produced, not moved long distances to market. One common - but not universal - definition of "local" food is food grown within 100 miles of its point of purchase or consumption. The locavore movement in the United States and elsewhere was spawned as a result of interest in sustainability and eco-consciousness becoming more prevalent.
The word "locavore" was the word of the year for 2007 in the Oxford American Dictionary. The suffix "vore" comes from the Latin word vorare (as in "devour"), and is used to form nouns indicating what kind of a diet an animal has. This word was the creation of Jessica Prentice of the San Francisco Bay Area at the time of World Environment Day 2005. It may be rendered "localvore", depending on regional differences.
The contemporary American movement associated with the term can be traced back to proposed resolutions to SNE's 1981 guidelines. These largely unsuccessful resolutions encouraged increased local production, policy guidelines to slow farmland loss, and development in nutrition education to minimize "food miles." The program described "sustainable diets" - a term then new to the American public - which were derailed for seeming "activist," "negat[ing] objectivity," "confusing", and "sometimes threatening." The main contention then was energy efficiency - the same worry as today. At the time, the resolutions were faced with strong criticism from pro-business institutions, but have had a strong resurgence of backing since the year 2000. This historical view of "locavorism" urges people to make universally health food-choice decisions - for themselves as well as for the planet.
There are a number of reasons why people choose to participate in the locavore lifestyle. These motivations include healthier food, environmental benefits, and economic or community benefits. Many local farmers that locavores turn to for their source of food use the crop rotation method when producing their organic crops. This method not only aids in reducing the use of pesticides and pollutants, but also keeps the soil in good condition rather than depleting it. Also, locavores seek out farmers close to where they live, and this significantly reduces the amount of travel time taken for the food to get from the farm to the locavore's table. Reducing the travel time makes it possible to transport the crops while they are still fresh, without using chemical preservatives. The combination of local farming techniques and short travel distances makes the food consumed more likely to be organic and fresh, which is an added benefit.
Locavores are interested in making an impact on their community by supporting the local farmers. The locavore movement has been surprisingly successful in supporting small local farmers. After declining for more than a century, the number of small farms has increased 20% in the past six years, to 1.2 million, according to the Agriculture Department.
The food may be grown in home gardens, community gardens or grown by local commercial groups interested in keeping the environment as clean as possible and selling food close to where it is grown. Farmers' markets play a role in efforts to eat what is local.
Preserving food for those seasons when it is not available fresh from a local source is one approach some locavores include in their strategies. Living in a mild climate can make eating locally grown products very different from living where the winter is severe or where no rain falls during certain parts of the year. Many approaches can be developed, and they vary by locale. Such foods as spices, chocolate, or coffee pose a challenge for some, so there are a variety of ways of adhering to the locavore ethic. Those in the movement generally seek to keep use of fossil fuels to a minimum, thereby releasing less carbon dioxide into the air and preventing greater global warming.
Websites aimed at connecting local growers are a great way for locavores to continue to source produce within their local community. They often contain apps or other features that map where particular produce is grown and allow people to get in touch with one another. See, for instance, RipeNear.Me and LocalHarvest.org.
In order to stimulate use of local foods as well as better metrics for local food production, availability and consumption, a Vermont-based farm and food advocacy organization, Strolling of the Heifers annually publishes the Locavore Index, a ranking of the 50 U. S. states and the District of Columbia. In the 2014 Index, the three top-ranking states in the Index were Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire, while the three lowest-ranking states were Texas, Nevada and Arizona.
Despite the goals of healthier living, healthier environment, and more prosperous local economy, there have been criticisms against the effectiveness of the lifestyle. Many critics focus on the concept of the popular term "Food Miles," referring to the amount of miles the food travels from the farm to the store. It was believed that reducing the food miles, by transporting local foods, would reduce gasses emitted from the transportation. The locavore movement has been criticized by Dr. Vasile Stănescu, the co-senior editor of the Critical Animal Studies book series, as being idealistic and for not actually achieving the environmental benefits of the claim that the reduced food miles decreases the amount of gasses emitted. Studies have shown that the amount of gasses saved by local transportation, while existing, does not have a significant enough impact to consider it a benefit.
- Community garden
- Farmer's market
- Local food
- Sustainable agriculture
- Community-supported agriculture
- "The Lure of the 100-Mile Diet", Time (June 11, 2006).
- The Locavores website.
- "Oxford Word Of The Year: Locavore". Oxford University Press.
- "The Birth of Locavore| OUPBlog".OUPBlog.
- "Locavore or localvore?" Language Log.
- Drake Bennett (July 22, 2007). "The localvore's dilemma", The Boston Globe.
- Gussow, Joan (July 1998). "Dietary Guidelines for Sustainability: Twelve Years Later". Society for Nutrition Education.
- "The Local Food Movement." Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection.Detroit: Gale, 2010. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 12 Feb. 2014
- "The Local Food Movement." Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. Detroit: Gale, 2010. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 12 Feb. 2014.
- Gogoi, Pallavi. "The Local Food Movement Benefits Farms, Food Production, Environment." The Local Food Movement. Amy Francis. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2010. At Issue. Rpt. from "The Rise of the 'Locavore': How the Strengthening Local Food Movement in Towns Across the U.S. Is Reshaping Farms and Food Retailing." Business Week Online. 2008. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 27 Mar. 2014.
- Jennifer Maiser (November 2, 2007). "10 Steps to Becoming a Locavore", PBS.
- Ratha Tep; Nick Fauchald (February 2007). "How to Eat Like a Locovore", Food & Wine.
- Stanton, John L., James B. Wiley, and Ferdinand F. Wirth. "Who are the Locavores?" The Journal of Consumer Marketing 29.4 (2012): 248–61.
- "Strolling of the Heifers 2014 Locavore Index highlights benefits of food from local farms," Strolling of the Heifers
- Stănescu, Vasile (2010). "'Green' Eggs and Ham? The Myth of Sustainable Meat and the Danger of the Local" (PDF). Journal for Critical Animal Studies 8(1/2):8–32.
- Small, Green, and Good: The Role of Neglected Cities in a Sustainable Future, a Boston Review article which argues that declining cities can use urban agriculture to provide local food sources
- The Feast Nearby – a Book Review