The first thing to understand about local food is that it is not a fad among the wealthy or a hobby for the bourgeoisie. Local and regional food systems are possibly the most overlooked and undervalued mechanisms for fighting obesity and diabetes, decreasing health care costs, increasing energy efficiency, bolstering the economy and restoring community in a society increasingly marked by alienation and despair in a global, fast-paced, high-tech world.
Certainly if one lingers about the Santa Fe Farmers Market, haunts the halls of La Montañita Co-op, joins a CSA (community supported agriculture) or drives through Dixon in search of apples, there will be encounters with Prius drivers who go through green energy and locavore diets like bell bottoms or Britney Spears, but New Mexico's long history of acequia farming and self-sufficiency imbues the region with a culture of food and entrepreneurship. Making our own way through local food production, building with indigenous materials and working with the will of the land is our legacy.
Even so, only about 2 percent of the food we eat here comes from the region. Pushing that up to just 10 percent is a challenge that requires activism and commitment on numerous levels and by people in all walks of life and industry. It's a challenge that includes examining the logistics of distribution and shared resources, as the Santa Fe Alliance is currently doing. We also need to ensure the survival of non-patented heirloom seeds, face some realities about eating what's in season and give serious thought to where our food comes from and what hand we have in its production. Instead of accepting that food comes from somewhere else, we need to grow it where we can.
Of course, it's worth noting those items that will never be produced locally, but that we want to work hard to have anyway. Being a locavore is less about strict rules and distances and more about putting your energy and investment into the economy and the community that supports you every day. It's a big, intertwined global economic marketplace out there, but recent events prove that knowing your neighbors and looking them in the eye when you buy food, eat out, do your banking, purchase building materials, etc., delivers a level of accountability and satisfaction that distant, greedy corporations can't provide.
Indeed, with the collapse of big banking, the freneticism of oil and energy prices, and the increasingly common contamination of industrial foods, it's heartening to know that local business, energy initiatives and food producers are all locavores when it comes to supporting the community we all share. Some local activities even tackle broader problems: The Santa Fe Farmers Market Institute film series brings a wide range of perspective to land, water and food issues, while local honey producers do their share to keep needed pollinators healthy.
Eating locally and investing in the locavore mind-set is smart living for households and whole states. There are personal benefits, but it also creates a healthy cog in an unavoidable system of global gears. To the extent that each region takes accountability for itself and its neighbors, the world has the potential to become interconnected in positive, rather than dangerous, ways.
Eat locally, and everything else falls into place.—Zane Fischer
One Bite at a Time
Food lies at the heart of a local energy and entrepreneurial economy
Film Globally, Act Locally
The Santa Fe Farmers Market Institute brings films from around the world
School of Food
This ain't your daddy's cafeteria
Feeding the Seedy
Local growers say save, exchange, repeat
Challenging food habits can make—and break—culture
The world's mine oyster, and I'll be damned if I can't eat mine oyster
Not So Secret Garden
Seeding is afoot on the sunny side of the Roundhouse
Show Me the Honey
A bee in the field is worth two in the bonnet
Murder in the Red Barn
Eating with a clear conscience can be a dirty job