Listening to the podcast edition of the program The Splendid Table (episode January 17, 2009) got me thinking about several topics that I will write about this weekend.

The show sponsored “Locavore Nation” in 2008. Locavore isn’t a word that most people probably know, though it was is the 2007 “Word of the Year” for the Oxford American Dictionary.

A locavore is someone who eats food grown or produced locally or within a certain radius such as 50, 100, or 150 miles. The locavore movement encourages consumers to buy from farmers’ markets or even to produce their own food, with the argument that fresh, local products are more nutritious and taste better. Locally grown food is an environmentally friendly means of obtaining food, since supermarkets that import their food use more fossil fuels and non-renewable resources.

“Locavore” was coined by Jessica Prentice from the San Francisco Bay Area (see also http://www.locavores.com) on the occasion of World Environment Day 2005 to describe and promote the practice.

The podcast was a final (I suppose) check with their  Locavore Nation volunteers to see what conclusions the year-long project inspired.  There were fifteen people from around the country that they grouped by regiosns.

The idea was to try to get at least 80% of their food from local, organic, seasonal sources and then incorporate it into tasty, healthy meals.  (The show is about food, after all.) The participants had blogs on the site.

Since I came in at the end, there was a lot to read. I looked at the East group (no one from from my home state though) and starting reading some posts.

The blogger I looked at in the most detail was Autumn Long.

“I’m 24 years old, and I live in rural north-central West Virginia. I was born and raised in West Virginia, and in 2005 I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Anthropology. I live on a 75-acre farmstead that is composed mainly of forested hills. My husband, Dan, and I live “off the grid” in a “hand-built” house that is a work in progress. Dan’s parents are our closest neighbors and have owned this property since 1981. We have a horse, a donkey, two dozen laying hens, five cats, two dogs, and one hive of honeybees.

Dan and I both work part-time (I’m an editor and writer; he’s a landscaper) and consider ourselves full-time homesteaders. Together with my in-laws, we maintain ample pastures, two hayfields, large vegetable and herb gardens, fruit trees and berry bushes of various stages of development, and a small pond stocked with bass and catfish. The forest provides us with firewood and edible and medicinal plants and mushrooms. Dan and I make maple syrup each spring. We try to grow as much of our own food as possible, and we enjoy brewing beer. This year we plan to raise a couple of pigs and some roasting chickens.”

I like that she is a writer, and that they seem to have a jump-start on the locavore lifestyle. But what actually got me started reading her posts was her retrospective last blog post.

“When I was approached last year to participate in the Locavore Nation, it sounded like it would be well organized and enthusiastically supported, and would generate a lot of public participation. Fast-forward to a year later, when a few steadfast bloggers are still stubbornly churning out occasional entries despite a steady waning of interest by all (or at least most) involved parties. I’ve tried to keep up my end of the bargain, but I can’t help but feel that I’m often writing just to hear myself talk, so to speak. I wish there would have been better organization and more encouragement and support from the people who created this project in the first place. A great opportunity has been wasted in many ways.”

That seemed pretty honest. Of course, I also can identify with bloggers who feel like they are talking to themselves. (I had that same feeling doing a late-night college radio program many years ago.)

I did some searching, but didn’t turn up a new Autumn Long blog. I hope she does some vanity search and comes across this bcause I think she should continue her blogging on her own.

Like the cabin blogs I wrote about earlier, I find that getting someone’s personal take on something like this really makes your education about the topic more meaningful.

Autumn,

How is the donkey?
Are your honeybees having that hive collapse problem I read about?
Did you continue eating locally? What’s green to eat these winter days?

Yours truly,

Ken

More: from PBS “10 Steps to Becoming a Locavore”

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