Perhaps the simplest way to start eating real food is to become a locavore. Locavores are conosseiurs of regional cuisine—they try their hardest to dine on grub within an acceptable radius of their home. In some parts of the country this isn’t particularly feasible (think about the desert and big urban areas), but for most of the nation it is possible to have a healthy, local diet.
Locavoria represents a major ideological shift for consumers in America’s industrial food economy. It means stopping by farmers markets, tending to a garden, learning how to can, and planning meals around what’s in season. That’s the exact opposite of being able to walk into a supermarket at any time of year and pick out fresh fruits & veggies.
“Fresh” is a relative term. Supermarket vegetables tend to be specific varieties that have been selected for their ability to travel long distances. What’s gained in transportability, however, is lost in flavor. Anyone who’s ever tried a ripe, locally-grown tomato in August knows the difference—locavores take home a landslide victory in taste.
Locavores also get to feel good about passing their food dollar directly to farmers, instead of giving 85 cents to middlemen when they buy from supermarkets (value-added food processors make out like bandits).
Before running out to the nearest farmers market, though, you should consider the various values of food. Buying local is great, but what if you’re buying pork from a CAFO, or cucumbers that were soaked in fertilizer and pesticide? Suddenly locavoria becomes much more complex.
Personally, I’d skip the CAFO meat and pick up the cucumber (provided I couldn’t find less-pesticided green guys elsewhere). Most trips to your local farmers market won’t raise these kinds of questions, but it’s always good to keep thinking about it.