A handy guide (not a manifesto) for ‘locavores’
September 17, 2008
Lou Bendrick’s “Eat Where You Live” may have readers scouring the countryside for chicken farmers and eyeing their garden hoses suspiciously.
The former Aspen Times columnist, now a Massachusetts resident with a taste for locally produced food, has authored a newly published guide: “How to find and enjoy sustainable food no matter where you live.”
The goal is a healthier and more environmentally friendly diet ” reducing one’s dependence on food shipped long distances, treated with pesticides, infused with preservatives, etc.
The book offers everything from gardening instruction (from seed selection to making sure your hose isn’t made of unhealthy materials) to handy charts detailing which fruits, nuts and veggies can be successfully frozen, dehydrated or stored in a cool place. She throws in a few tempting recipes, as well, and a plethora of website references so readers can research everything from the location of the nearest farmer’s market and source of grass-fed beef, to edible landscaping and the slow food movement (the antithesis of fast food).
That doesn’t mean Roaring Fork Valley residents won’t find it challenging to take much of Bendrick’s advice on becoming a “locavore.” A Farm Locator web search claimed Aspen’s zip code isn’t valid; a web search for farm-fresh eggs pointed to just one source ” Sustainable Settings near Carbondale (which is up for sale and its future uncertain); and the mountain growing season is barely long enough to ripen a few tomatoes before the first hard frost. A cool place ” with high humidity ” in which to store a winter supply of potatoes, carrots, cabbage, turnips, etc. from one of the valley’s farmer’s markets isn’t easy to come by either, given Colorado’s relatively arid environment.
Bendrick, who once called the even-colder Telluride, Colo., home, is quick to concede local climate can be daunting in the quest for sustainable food.
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Start by taking a small step, or bite, she advises ” buy only local apples, for example. Broaden an Aspenite’s definition of local to western Colorado’s Paonia/Hotchkiss area and this is conceivably possible. (My web search for commercial apple growers closer to home came up empty, though it must be possible to grow them in the valley, as I have a single, wormy one dangling from my backyard tree in the midvalley.)
When it’s not possible to eat local, Bendrick urges at least going organic and seeking out “Fair Trade” products for items like coffee and tea ” Fair Trade means growers in disadvantaged countries receive fair prices for their products.
“If I can’t buy something local or organic or Fair Trade, well, I’ve given it my best shot, and I don’t lose sleep over it,” she writes. “And sometimes I just want a Snickers. For me, eating local is a choice, not a mandate.”