I listened to a radio program back in 2007 that introduced to me the term “locavore.” It was 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. (I have seen 50, 100, and 150 miles mentioned).

Unlike being a vegan, vegetarian, or some other limited food consumer for health or ethical reasons, the locavore movement’s main aim is to support local food producers. It encourages consumers to buy from local farmers’ markets or even to produce their own food. Most locavores would say that fresh, local products are more nutritious and taste better. Also, locally grown food is an environmentally-friendly means of obtaining food, as compared to supermarkets that import their food and use more fossil fuels and non-renewable resources to obtain it.

It does mean that I won’t have strawberries and tomatoes in Paradelle in December unless they are grown in a greenhouse. And citrus fruits won’t be locally grown here ever. So, there are sacrifices, especially since most of us have become used to a global supermarket experience.

“Locavore” is a fairly new word coined by Jessica Prentice on the occasion of World Environment Day 2005 to describe and promote the practice and is in the pattern of carnivore, herbivore, and omnivore.

10 Steps to Becoming a Locavore

Goats and cheesemaking workshop, Maker Faire 2011.jpg
Cheesemaking workshop, Maker Faire 2011 – Note the “Eat Your Zipcode” sign
CC BY-SA 3.0, Link


You’ve heard about locavores, right? People who try to eat locally grown/produced food. Locavores (or localvores) are part of the broader sustainability movement. Local purchasing and supporting local economies by buying locally produced goods and also services seems like a good idea, especially in these tough economic times. Buy at the small bookseller instead of the chain store. Try the local bakery or cafe.

You can read plenty of books about the locavore movement and I’m all for the idea of a local diet for a healthy planet, but this post is really about local walking and hiking.

I’m calling it locahikers, but that’s just my name for it. This weekend was a beautiful, crisp, sunny, fall one. I went for a walk (maybe too short to call it a hike, but…) on a nearby hilltop.

It’s one of those places that urban sprawl surrounds and is always in danger of being developed. This hilltop may very well end up being a housing development. That’s being considered right now.

This hilltop is only beginning to go back to a natural state. It was hospital grounds for many years. It has even been featured on TV as a ghost-haunted place, so it was a good place to go on this Halloween weekend.

Nothing ghostly was spotted, but the foliage colors were peaking, and there were loads of acorns on the ground from the dry summer weather.

The trail I followed is only about 2 miles, but I wasn’t trying to get a workout for my body as much as one for my brain.

I think we locahikers and walkers probably like the idea of really getting to know an area intimately.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

That immediately makes me think of a book by Annie Dillard. It’s one of my favorite non-fiction books. I took down my old paperback of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.

It’s a book about a year that she spends in Virginia’s Blue Ridge valley really studying up close her little area around Tinker Creek. As a book blurb says, she finds “mystery, death, beauty, violence” on a small and local scale.

I’ll bet there’s such an area like that near you. And there’s a good chance that there is some group of volunteers who are trying to promote and protect the space.

Preserving our own little Paradelles is important. These small nature preserves provide habitat for native wildlife and plant species. They also offer a sanctuary for us, simple enjoyment, healthy exercise and learning opportunities for young and old.

Some local New Jersey hikes

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

The third connected post this weekend is about another traveler on the locavore path.  Barbara Kingsolver is probably best known for her novels – particularly The Bean Trees and  The Poisonwood Bible which won the National Book Prize of South Africa and was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award and was chosen as an Oprah’s Book Club selection.

She is also the author of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life a non-fiction book about her family’s experiment to eat only locally grown food for a year. Along with her husband and daughters, she moves to a farm in Virginia. They grow and can  tomatoes, learn about roosters, make cheese, and learn to do what it takes to eat what is in season.

Kingsolver’s background is interesting. Born in Maryland with some of her childhood spent in Africa where her father was a medical doctor and some in Kentucky, she attended DePauw University on a music scholarship for classical piano, but ended up switching to biology. In the late 1970s, she lived in Greece, France, and Tucson, Arizona, working variously as an archaeological digger, copy editor, housecleaner, biological researcher and translator. She earned a Master’s degree in ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona.

“If we can’t, as artists, improve on real life, we should put down our pencils and go bake bread.”
Barbara Kingsolver