How-to: Eat Local


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You've heard of the omnivore, the carnivore, and the herbivore. Now there's another term to add to your dietary vocabulary: locavore. The locavore could follow the diet of any of the above options, with one caveat: locavores only eat foods that are grown, processed and produced within 100 miles of their home.

The locavore diet isn't a new weight loss trend. It's a way of eating that supports sustainable environments and economies. When you support local farms, you take part in keeping local economies viable and thriving. Since most food travels an average of 1,500 miles to reach you, local food has less of an impact on our environment. And by selecting foods that come from the region you live in, you get the freshest, healthiest, and most flavorful products of the season.

For Seattle area residents, this means buying produce, meat, diary and other products that come from Western or Central Washington. That means eliminating things like tropical fruits, but there are plenty of substitutes grown in Washington State that will keep your pantry stocked through the seasons. Look for fruits like cherries, figs, melons, kiwis, and all kinds of berries. Veggie options range from beans and broccoli to peppers, asparagus, and squash. For a complete listing of foods produced in Western Washington, see King County's harvest schedule, which lets you find your favorite food and the farms which produce them.

Getting Started

Start with realistic goals. You may find it difficult to jump in and eat 100% local foods. Becoming a locavore often means changing where you shop and what kinds of foods you eat, so give yourself time to figure out what works best for your lifestyle. You can start by eating one local meal a week, then work your way into a diet consisting of at least half local foods.

For help getting started, see resources like the 100 Mile Diet and the Eat Local Challenge.

Where to Find Local Foods

As most of you know, there's no better place to find great produce than the farmers markets of Seattle and Washington State. You can also find ranches in Washington that produce grass-fed, pastured meat using Eat Wild. Many of these ranches offer you the option of ordering meat directly from their website, or tell you which farmers markets and grocery stores sell their products. You can also finds farms in your area on King County's farm finder. Or let the local produce come to you with a weekly delivery from a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

Many supermarkets and co-ops support local farms. Look for local foods at PCC and Madison Market, or try growing your own. If you would like to stock your freezer with local, organic dishes, Eat Local offers frozen meals serving 2-20.

For recipes that utilize local foods, go to Cook Local NW.

Drink Local

Ditch the Evian or Fiji, which travel thousands of miles to reach your grocery store shelf, and switch to your local tap. The tap water in your home and office is safe to drink, and tastes just as good as the bottled waters you buy in the store, but cost a fraction of the price. Many bottled waters, such as Aquafina, are just bottled tap water anyway.

If you're wondering what to do about beer and wine, you're in luck. Washington State has numerous producers. Check out the South Seattle Artisan Wineries (SSAW) or try the wineries in Woodinville. And for beer, find what your favorite brewery on washingtonbeer.com.

Though coffee isn't grown in Washington, you can still find local roasters who support sustainable farming practices. Try Stumptown or Vivace.

Where to Dine

There are many Western Washington restaurants that support the eat local philosophy. Buying meat and produce from local farms ensures that chefs have the freshest and best tasting ingredients to put on the menu. Try some of these:

For more restaurants, Local Harvest and Eat Well Guide list oodles of stores, restaurants, co-ops, and resources to enable your locavore diet, or try King County's restaurant guide (Local guide festivore, which we've blogged about, is another great new resource).

If you have other ideas or resources, we would love to hear about them!

Photo credit: Flickr/circulating, licensed by Creative Commons.

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