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Locavores – Simple Way to Make a Big Impact

What is a locavore?
A locavore is classified as any person that chooses to utilize the goods and produce that are cultivated or created locally (traditionally within 100 miles of home). Although some people are capable of thriving nearly entirely on the food that they get from their own land or from other farmers, most people do not maintain such resources.

Why be a locavore?
The most common answer that people have when poised the question: “Why are you a locavore?” leads back to the ultimate environmental responsibility of which people should be mindful.

applpeLet’s use an apple as an example. Washington is the United States leading producer of apple crops, dishing out nearly 2/3 of all apples in our supermarkets. These apples require quite a journey to make it to these supermarkets. Apple trees only produce fruit in the US during August and September. The apples are picked just before they ripen and treated with chemicals and cold-stored until they can be shipped by truck to their ultimate destination. So, we have now utilized chemicals to preserve the apples, extensive electricity to store the apples, and finally fossil fuels to get the apples, now up to a year old, to the market.

Hand-picking-a-red-apple-from-a-treeAlternatively, a local farmer has been experimenting with tree grafting and has produced some delicious apples. The farmer brings bushels of these apples to the local farmers’ market each week. No preservatives, no chemicals, and a far less fossil fuel then traveling from the pacific northwest.

How can I make my produce last?
One of the most obvious issues with using produce in Nebraska, is our limited growing time. One of the best ways to combat this obstacle is preserving the produce in jars in forms such as pickling vegetables or making fruit into jams and jellies.homemadejam

My family makes a yearly tradition of preparing and jarring pints of salsa made from tomatoes, peppers, and onions grown in our garden during the summer. We also take raspberries and strawberries from the patches and make several jars of homemade jam. These goods are used all year long around the house, family gatherings and parties, and often given as gifts.

Some other vegetables, such as asparagus can be planted in patch and will sprout fresh new shoots yearly if well maintained and can be preserved in a vinegar solution.canning

Food preservation for long-term storage require specific techniques to avoid spoiling. You can go to the National Center for Home Food Preservation for information on these simple techniques. Preservation recipes can also be found online and tinkered with to fit your tastes.

So try being a locavore. Visit the farmers’ market on Saturday morning or start a garden. Make it a family activity or even a neighborhood goal because going local is a simple way, to make a huge impact.

Carter Shank, Instructor
Nebraska Outdoor Education Center

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