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Eating Local; what is a locavore?

In the 1990's I started reading about food politics. I became fascinated by stories I would happen upon regarding how some common foods we consume on a daily basis create poverty, servitude and destroy ecology and wildlife habitats in countries where the products originate. I realized I wasn't prepared to change everything, but there were a couple places I decided to start my journey. One of those was coffee. We drink coffee every morning and it shocked me to learn that pesticides such as DDT were still being used on many coffee crops. In fact, there is no substantive pesticide residue in the coffee we receive for purchase here, but it kills birds and penetrates into groundwater in the areas where it's used. They can achieve larger yields of beans if they deforest in these otherwise lovely regions. Small family farms were disappearing due to their inability to compete with mega-companies using deforestation and pesticides in order to sell cheap coffee beans to US and European markets.

The definition is somewhat general, and very specific to each individual who cares to be part of this experience. Here's a link to a definition, but to simplify, a locavore is one who chooses local foods instead of those grown outside the community. Two of the ways you can do this is to grow some of your own food, and to shop at local farmers markets. Keep in mind that there are times when the products at farmer's markets aren't really very local. Learning about what foods are in season in your area, or those foods that have long storage lives even in their 'fresh' state (meaning unprocessed or cooked) will help you make good choices. Foods with long storage life include things like dried beans, peas, rice (choose basmati or brown rice), whole grain pastas, winter squashes, apples such as granny smith, and nuts & seeds (store nuts & seeds in the refrigerator or freezer).

There are times when finances restrict us from making many choices about our purchases. When you need to keep finances at a minimum, but still need to feed yourself and your family, you can still choose to make some of your purchases at locally owned markets. Choose a market within walking distance of your home (if possible), and shop the store to identify which items you can safely include among your purchases. Even if the products themselves aren't locally grown, the money you spend is staying in your community. If you can walk, you've saved the money for gas and also helped your environment! (If you don't have a local market within walking distance, choose the nearest local owned market you can find.)

Here in Sonoma County we have many local farmer's markets. Here is a listing of many...

  • Cotati - Thursdays, June 2 - Sept. 15, 2011, 4:30 - 7:30 p.m. - La Plaza Park, W. Sierra & Old Redwood Hwy.
  • Duncans Mills - behind Blue Heron Restaurant Duncans Mills, CA Saturdays, 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
  • Gualala - Gualala Community Center Gualala, CA 95445 Saturdays, 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM, May through October. At the corner of Hwy 1 and Center Street in downtown Gualala.
  • Guerneville - Guerneville Town Square Guerneville, CA Wednesdays, 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM
  • Healdsburg - North & Vine Streets Healdsburg, CA Saturdays 9:00 AM - 12 Noon; May through November
  • Healdsburg - Matheson Street on the Plaza Healdsburg, CA Tuesdays, 4:00 PM - 6:30 PM; June through October
  • Occidental - Downtown Occidental, in front of Howard Station Cafe Occidental, CA Fridays, 4:00 pm until dusk
  • Petaluma - Walnut Park - Petaluma Boulevard & D Street Petaluma, CA 94952 Saturdays - 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM, approx. May - October
  • Santa Rosa (Oakmont) - Oakmont Drive and White Oak Santa Rosa, CA Saturdays - 9:00 AM - 12 Noon; Year 'round - Rain or Shine
  • Santa Rosa (Vets Bldg) - Veteran's Building East Parking Lot Santa Rosa, CA Saturdays - 8:30 AM - 12 Noon
  • Original Santa Rosa Farmer's Market - Well Fargo Center, Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa, CA Wednesdays & Saturdays - 8:30 AM - 12 Noon; Year 'round / Rain or Shine.
  • Santa Rosa (Downtown) - B Street @ Santa Rosa Plaza Santa Rosa, CA Wednesdays - 5:00 PM - 8:30 PM; Last Wednesday of May to the first Wednesday of September.
  • Sebastopol - Downtown Plaza @ McKinley Street Sebastopol, CA Sundays - 10:00 AM - 1:30 PM; April through December
  • Sonoma - Depot Park @ First Street West Sonoma, CA Open Fridays - 9:00 AM - 12 Noon; Year 'round.
  • Sonoma - Sonoma Plaza on the Square Sonoma, CA Tuesdays - 5:30 PM - Dusk; April through October.
  • Windsor - Town Green in Old Downtown Windsor, CA Sundays - 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM; May through November and Thursday Nights 5-8 pm

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