What is a Locavore?

When I first came to Central Florida, about five years ago, not many people seemed to know about organic food and it was hard to find. Years earlier, as a college student at the University of Colorado in Boulder, I earned spending money in the local Wild Oats Market slinging tofu salads and squeezing wheat grass shots at the deli counter. It wasn’t until I moved on to New Orleans, and later New York, that I realized I had taken that healthy lifestyle for granted. It was truly a Western hippie thing, I guess.

I’m not sure how it happened, (perhaps due to the growing national green movement, Michael Pollan, global warming, Al Gore, etc.) but it seems like in the last couple of years, Orlando has had a boom of vegetarian and vegan (no animal products including eggs, cheese and honey) restaurants and places to purchase organic foods.

I’m all for organic, but I try my best to be a locavore. Just because something is organic does not mean it hasn’t come all the way from Mexico or Peru, which means more big trucks rumbling down the road polluting the air, and buying produce probably more than a week old.

It is surprisingly easy to be a locavore, especially here in Orlando. If you haven’t heard about it already, check out the Home Grown Co-op. The co-op brings fresh produce, garden herbs and even meats from farms no more than 100 miles away (the few exceptions are always noted). Not only does it taste better, it feels wonderful to support local farmers who run small operations and take humane care of their animals. The fresh eggs are to die for and the fresh juices are absolutely delicious. The fee is $40 a year. All the shopping is done online and ready for pick up in several locations once a week.

The cost is more than you pay at Publix or similar markets, but the produce lasts longer and I’m more careful to not let anything go to waste. Nearly every week I buy a small "pick box" for $20 that usually comes with lovely lettuce, sweet potatoes, corn, oranges and baby onions — what ever is in season. I can feed my husband and for a week. I make it a priority to use everything, especially knowing it came from a local farm raised with care.

As Florida residents, we are silly not to eat locally grown food. Much of the country depends on our produce year round and we have it all, right in our backyard.