I would never call myself a locavore. One, because it would make me feel silly, and two, because it’s not exclusively true. However, eating seasonally grown local food is nothing new to us. This is what we grew up doing and what makes sense for us to continue to do. It’s easy, where we live.
Our main reasons for eating local foods? Economics and taste. It’s normally a little less expensive to buy from our neighbours, plus it keeps money in the neighbourhood. And it just tastes better. Seasonal vegetables from your own garden or local area are picked right when they should be and make it to your plate on that same day (or are preserved at the moment of ripeness).
In the part of southeastern Ontario where we live, we have neighbours with apple orchards, strawberry fields, u-pick corn fields, an apiary, wineries, dairy and meat cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry. We also have local commercial fishermen who sell to neighbours and there are cheese factories very close by. We are lucky, and I know it wouldn’t be as convenient for others to buy local food as it is for us.
However, that said, we don’t buy exclusively local foods. We buy when it makes good economic sense and when food is in season.
When we can, we buy local meat at the appropriate time and stock it in our freezer (ask me sometime about the time my husband accidentally thawed a freezer with a new side of beef, a whole pig, half a sheep, many chickens and a couple of turkeys – all for the sake of a cat door that he put on the wrong side of the furnace room door anyway).
We also grow a lot of our own produce and buy some when it’s in season and put it away for later (I freeze most fruits and veg, but this year I am going to attempt some canning – if my mom could manage it while working full time and coralling 3 kids, I should be able to too. Maybe.).
Our bodies are set up for eating seasonally. In the winter we eat solid meals made with root vegetables that stay well over the winter and with stewed and preserved vegetables from the summer garden. In the spring and summer, we are ready for lighter meals during warmer days. We no longer need the heavy meals to get us through the cold days and are ready to eat greens and fruits as they become available.
Right now we are enjoying chives and rhubarb – the first two things to arrive in our garden. Our neighbours have also been generous with the asparagus from their gardens – definitely my favourite vegetable of spring.
Another benefit of eating local foods is meeting and becoming part of the local community. As well as buying food from neighbours, we’ve also been given maple syrup, honey, venison and moose (sometimes as a barter, sometimes as a gift) and we give away garden produce as well as goose and duck meat in return during hunting season. Food sharing makes you part of a community. We also try to attend local church or women’s institute dinners on occasion. Our families went to them when we were growing up, now we do too. It’s a great way for the younger members of the community to get to know the stories of the older ones.
We also hold a pig roast at our place most years as a way to get the community and some far flung friends together for a weekend. If you feed them, they will come..
We’re making plans to purchase some meat hens soon for our own consumption. We did that a couple of years ago (in collaboration with some friends) with 100 meat chickens. However, after killing and cleaning that many birds, it took me a month to stop grumbling about chicken pluckin’. This time, the dad says “he knows a guy”. I take that to mean he knows a guy with a chicken plucking contraption of some sort. Oh, how I hope so..