For anyone growing bamboo and using it to cook some delicious bamboo recipes, welcome to a small niche of the increasingly popular local food movement. The local food movement is a “collaborative effort to build more locally-based, self-reliant economies – one in which sustainable food production, processing, distribution, and consumption is integrated to enhance the economic, environmental and social health of a particular place.” Many farms involved in the local food movement embrace sustainable agriculture techniques so they not only raise healthier food for the consumer (as opposed to many of the corporate food farms for large groceries) but they lessen their impact on the environment by choosing eco-friendly farming practices.
If nothing else, consider this – the food on the plate from large grocery stores has traveled an average of 1500 miles to get there!
Here are some ways to become involved with the local food movement:
1 – Start your own garden! From lawn to lunch (as they say), starting a garden will add one more local grower and can provide a green thumb with plenty of fresh veggies for the year. If the First Lady can get her hands dirty on the White House lawn, surely we can all follow her lead.
2 – Eat more veggies! If gardening is not your thing, you still have to eat. 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions are created by meat production so whenever possible, fill your plate with vegetables and keep meat to a minimum. Not only will this help the environment but it could benefit your health as well.
3 – Host a preserve party! If you got a little overzealous with your canning and have too much tomato sauce or pickled bamboo but no apple butter left, invite some other local foodies over and swap goods. Expand the selection to include baked goods as well!
4 – Shop local! This is the most obvious way to get involved but sometimes not the easiest. If you’re fortunate enough to live near local farmers markets and food stands, take advantage of that. If you’re not sure where any might be in your area, visit Local Harvest to find locally-grown food sold nearby. Other resources to find affordable and environmentally-grown food include Sustainable Table or the Eat Well Guide.
5 – Start a community garden! Urban dwellers often lack the land to start their own garden but all over the country, neighbors are finding available land and growing food together. People can be in charge of individual plots or the garden as a whole can be a shared responsibility. Make sure to meet regularly to swap seedlings, share advice and celebrate your harvest with a potluck! For more information on starting your own community garden, visit CommunityGarden.org.
6 – Consider the Hungry in your area! Many local homeless centers and food pantries are taking matters into their own hands and starting gardens to benefit their communities. Consider donating some of your bounty or contact local non-profits to see if they have a garden that needs volunteer help. (If they don’t , suggest starting one!)
7 – Host a locally-produced dinner! Want to pique your friend’s interest? Host a dinner party made with as much local food as possible and let your friends know why this is a movement they should get on board with!
Whether your New Year’s resolution was to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle or to improve your diet, joining the local food movement is a great place to start!