lo·ca·vore \ˈlō-kə-ˌvȯr\: one who eats foods grown locally whenever possible.
In November 2007 the New Oxford American Dictionary announced locavore as the word of the year. Since the word’s creation by local food activist and chef, Jessica Prentice of San Francisco, many people have accepted the challenge to eat only locally grown food whenever possible.
Chef Michael Hodgins does his part to support the locavore movement by incorporating only the freshest ingredients into the Café @ Rio menu, and according to Hodgins the best way to find the freshest food is to buy local.
“The first place I look for fresh food is at the farmers markets; I personally talk to each farmer and ask to visit their farms to see if it meets high standards,” said Hodgins. “Anything from a local farm or garden is the best, because as soon as produce is picked, it begins to deteriorate and loose nutritional value.”
Locavores, like Hodgins, buy from local producers so that money spent will circulate in the local economy, but the benefits of buying locally extends beyond the financial. The closer the food, the fewer miles it has to travel, generally resulting in greater freshness and a lower carbon footprint.
“Less distance between you and the farmer the fresher,” Hodgins said. “Eating locally not only keeps the money local but can reduce wasted energy on food miles.”
According to some of the Cafe @ Rio’s vendors, a locavore lifestyle can have a significant impact on the consumer, the community and the environment.
· “The benefits of buying locally is that the money stays here and it's is harvested for the consumer to order. Fresh !” – Michael, Love Grows Farms
· “Buying local means buying the freshest meat possible. The pork we sell at The MEAT SHOP leaves the farm on Monday and is processed and ready to serve to the consumer on Tuesday, unlike meat that takes up to six months to reach the consumer.” –Beth, The Meat Shop
· “Buying locally helps keep available farmland land farmable. Once farmland has an office building on top of it, it's unlikely that it will become farmland again. Buying locally supports the farmers and keeps the farmland alive.” – Jennifer Woods, Crooked Sky Farms
· “The benefits of growing locally allow the local consumers to purchase fresher, tastier food from people they know. The consumer benefits by not having to pay for long distance transportation fees and have the added benefit of helping to reduce environmental impacts while supporting their community.” – Deborah Walliser, Solsustech Inc.
Surprisingly, Hodgins admits he was not always a locavore. It took years as a chef to realize the benefits of going local.
“I used to think a good chef was one who could get anything in any season, creating a menu, and then finding the food,” said Hodgins. “Yet when I lived in the bay area I saw this culture of local produce and famers markets and it was there that I realized I needed to do the same here. I have been trying to serve local food for 7 years. Now, I see what is available locally, and then I make my menu.”