Health Corner: Locavores…Get it? Good.

The Health Corner takes a final trot down the hale and hearty road this week, so gather ‘round kids.  Become privy to the lifestyle of the environmentally conscious and thoroughly fastidious locavore, whose trend-setting, groundbreaking ways could potentially eliminate the greenhouse gas emissions left behind by importing our food.

A locavore is a person who only eats locally-grown products, and your city is the epicenter of this momentum-gaining movement.  In 2005, San Franciscans Jen Maiser, Jessica Prentice, Sage Van Wing and DeDe Sampson challenged the Bay Area, and people all over the world, to only eat food that has been grown and harvested within a 100-mile radius of their home for the entire month of August.

In 2007 the challenge was extended to September, and in that very same historic year, “locavore” was named the 2007 Word of the Year by the Oxford American Dictionary.

Being a locavore is more than being a spaz at the dinner table when someone serves up an overseas slab of meat with a side of foreign spuds.  It is an environmental movement. The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture estimates that the average American meal travels approximately 1,500 miles from farm to plate. This long-distance trek disproportionately guzzles copious amounts of fossil fuels. The CUESA estimates that we put 10 kcal of fossil fuel energy into our food system for every 1 kcal of energy we get as food. 10-1! That’s hardly parsimonious…it’s reckless at best.

Food transportation over long distances also spawns great carbon dioxide emissions.  Shipping by sea is most environment-friendly, yet its leisurely commute is far too time-consuming for us famished Americans. So we have resorted to airfreight, which generates 50 times more CO2 than by sea, according to the informative folks at the CUESA.

So being a locavore helps the environment.  But is it actually healthier for us, you ask.  Let’s go people, get the wheels moving.  Put that $10,000,000,000,000,000 USF education to use.  Reorient yourself with a little deductive reasoning. If A (being a locavore) equals B (a healthier environment), and B (a healthier environment) equals C (a healthier you), then A (being a locavore) equals C (a healthier you).  Got it?  Good.

Now these ambitious local eaters are challenging people to be locavores all year round.  If you’re thinking, “yeah right,” so was I.  But upon further review, it turns out that, of all places, San Francisco is the prime spot to attempt this ambitious grass-roots experiment.

The Bay Area bioregion is to a locavore what the Health Corner is to the Foghorn: precious space with limitless yet unfulfilled potential.  West Marin produces oysters, mussels, cheese, milk and grass-fed beef. The great Pacific Ocean gives us salmon, crab, and cod among others.  Sonoma County contributes chickens, fruits, vegetables and wild mushrooms.  Napa County is home to wine, of course, but countless fruits and vegetables as well.  Get the picture?  You’re living on fruitful grounds.

If you don’t have the time to travel to those far-off counties, you’re not off the hook.  Just meander down to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and hook yourself up with some fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy products, eggs, honey, beans, potatoes, etc.  They are all delectable and all grown within 100 miles of your front door, putting fewer preservatives into your body and less emissions into the air.


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