Posts Tagged ‘locavores’

How Local are Localvores?

In an effort to learn more about localvores, and to find restaurants dedicated to the cause of cooking with local ingredients…I haven’t unearthed very much!

First, my search to find restaurants in my area that strive to use as many local ingredients as possible – results online were limited.  I did locate a site that lists restaurants in MA who buy local ingredients – the Metrowest area listed mostly restaurants in and very near to the city, but I was pleased to see two restaurants that I know and like: Aquatini in Newburyport, and the Flatbread Company in Amesbury (Flatbreads has several other locations, including Bedford, MA – stay tuned for a review on a future date!)  However, I know many more local restaurants strive to serve fresh, local foods.  Along these lines, I was saddened to learn of Infusions Bistro in Chelmsford, MA closing their doors after a slow winter/holiday season (another thing I can blame the snow for?) as I know that the chef there valued local ingredients.  I wish him and the rest of the staff well and hope he opens another restaurant in this area.

I did come across a site (all links at the end of this entry) for localvores in Boston and I learned a bit more there.  They have great resources for city-dwellers, and I got one great piece of advice which was (I am paraphrasing, hopefully doing their intentions justice) that it’s ok to start slowly as a localvore – commit to buying a few local ingredients (i.e. local dairy products) rather than jumping in whole-hog.  That I can do, and would like to try.  I do enjoy farmers’ markets, farmstands and smaller grocers that sell local ingredients – which is saying a lot as heading into a grocery store/superstore sends me into a tailspin (just ask my husband!)  They also state on their site that localvores do not buy all of their food locally nor does the food need to come from within 100 miles (again, I am paraphrasing).  This point confuses me…I do remember reading in the past that localvores strive to eat as much food from possible from within a certain radius…I remember it having something to do with maximizing the “green” efforts of eating locally.  So, this leads me to ponder, what is local?  How relative a term is it?






Localvores in Massachusetts?

Localvores, or locavores, depending on the source you consult, are growing in numbers and starting  a movement that is intriguing to me.  A localvore is someone who consumes food that is all, or mostly, obtained from local sources – i.e. produce from a local farm or farmer’s market.  What are the benefits to being a localvore?  Many, according to its proponents.  Eating locally helps to support local farmers, helps the local economy, and is a “greener” way of eating (you can reduce your carbon footprint by eating an apple from a local farmer’s market rather than a banana that had to be shipped from another country).  Furthermore, the food that you are eating is fresher, and thus, should taste better.

A few local restaurants serve food based on this premise, perhaps most noteably Gilson’s Herb Lyceum in Groton, MA.  They don’t receive a lot of press, but what they do receive is positive.  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, either, as one of the owners’ sons is the chef at Garden at the Cellar in Cambridge.  The two restaurants are very different in scope but share a desire to serve locally acquired food.  I have yet to try either, but am eager to try both.

People are showing a general interest in learning where their food comes from, as evidenced by television shows like How’d That Get on My Plate with Sunny Anderson.  Many chefs on Bravo’s Top Chef state a commitment to serving food that is in season and derived from local farms and other sources.  On a recent episode, the chefs went to a farm to learn about the livestock, chickens, and produce so that they could serve the farmers farm-fresh dishes.

I love the idea of eating as a localvore, but I have to admit that the time and money needed to eat in this way feels extremely restrictive.  In addition, many of the foods I love aren’t in season for much of the year in New England.  Localvores seem to be in short in Massachusetts in general, although the numbers in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine do seem to be growing.  I look forward to learning more about this movement and seeing if and how retailers respond.