The term “locavore“ was named the Word of the Year for 2007 in the Oxford American Dictionary. Locavore was coined by a group of women in San Francisco, who encouraged people to eat food produced within a 100-mile radius of where they lived. Runners-up for Word of the Year included: cougar: an older woman who romantically pursues younger men and upcycling: the transformation of waste materials into something more useful or valuable.
There are several factors that motivate people to adopt the locavore philosophy. The idea began in the United States with three women: Jessica Prentice, Dede Sampson and Sage Van Wing. Prentice coined the term “locavore” in 2005 and they began a website, challenging people to eat only locally-produced food during the month of August.
Locavores reject the idea that any food should be available anywhere, at any time of the year, with fresh produce imported from the other side of the globe. One source estimates that supermarket produce in the USA travels on average 1,300 to 2,000 miles (2,092 to 3,218 kilometres) to reach the consumer, at a considerable carbon cost. The distance the food travels has come to be called “food miles”.
As well as reducing the climate impacts by eating local food in season, locavores recognise that such food is likely to be fresher. In addition, buying it helps support local growers. The locavore movement coincides with the increase in the number of community farms and farmers’ markets as well as a renewed interest in backyard vegetable growing. Even committed locavores tend to stumble when it comes to coffee though.
There are those who point out that local ingredients aren’t always environmentally friendly, saying that raising livestock has a bigger environmental cost than transport. Food processing also has a high environmental impact, although those concentrating on eating locally are likely to avoid highly processed foods.