Reflections on Lazy Locavores
It’s not easy being a locavore, but people nevertheless are trying. They’re hitting farmers markets whenever they can, checking Web sites for local food sources, and even growing food in their own backyards. Some, though, are taking the easy way out, hiring people to plant gardens or ordering local food from online vendors. They’re what Kim Severson in a New York Times article calls the “lazy locavores.”
I read the article with mixed emotions and found myself both liking and disliking this emerging class of local food eaters. First what I liked. I liked the fact that lazy locavores are inspiring new businesses. A business planting gardens might be a great entry point for people who want to farm and others who like to be outdoors and work with their hands. Landscapers and gardeners looking for additional revenue streams also benefit from the emerging generation of food-conscious consumers. Then there are the new online vendors, which source from only local places, like the “FruitGuys” mentioned in the NYT article. These online vendors are sure to make Fresh Direct more competitive and perhaps more local-oriented. I like new businesses, particularly when they revolve around life’s essentials, none more so than good nutritious food.
What’s there to dislike about lazy locavores? For me, it has a little to do with ordering local food online. Doesn’t that mute one of the key objectives of eating locally, which is to reduce carbon emissions by having food travel shorter distances? By ordering rather than picking up local food, locavores are needlessly expanding their carbon and environmental footprint. True, food is not traveling as far as it otherwise would. Instead, it’s traveling shorter distances to hundreds of local destinations. And think of all the packaging!
What bothered me more was the hint of elitism. Not everyone can afford to be lazy about their local food habit. In these hard economic times, who can afford to hire a gardener to grow their food? Or keep a personal chef? Or pay a premium to have their local food delivered to their door?
That got me thinking about the hard-driving, non-lazy locavores, and what they could do to enjoy local food without having to lay out too much extra cash. Here are some things I thought of:
· Join a CSA. A CSA share costs about the same as what shoppers would pay for conventional food in the supermarket, so it’s a good deal. A CSA arrangement works especially well for people who live within walking distance of the CSA food drop-off location.
· Shop at farmers markets. There are multiple farmers markets throughout the city. If locavores work in neighborhoods that have farmers markets, they should consider shopping after work hours on their way home. It might be a time saver. People, though, are out of luck if there aren’t any farmers markets near their homes or workplaces.
· Buddy up with a neighbor and split the errand of shopping for local food. Granted, shoppers would need a very good relationship with their neighbor, but if that relationship exists it could save time and probably even money.
None of these ideas are as convenient as having someone shop for you or grow your food for you at home, or having local produce delivered to your door. But for locavores who don’t mind a little inconvenience – and aren’t lazy – the ideas might help.