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Localize it!

September 20, 2008
By NATHAN BROWN, Enterprise Staff Writer

locavore n (2006) : a person who attempts to eat foods grown locally. Ex. Locavores grow their own food or buy foodstuffs grown within their region. Usage: cooking

-Webster's New Millennium Dictionary of English,

Preview Edition (v 0.9.7)

Article Photos

Some local farms, like Rivermede Farms in Keene Valley pictured above, have thrived in the Adirondacks for generations while others are relatively new. The end result, though, is the same: More and more people are turning to their neighbors for their food and liking what’s on their plates because of it.
(Enterprise file photo — Andy Bates)

The New Oxford American Dictionary chose locavore as its 2007 Word of the Year. Pretty quick jump in prestige for a word that was only coined in 2004 by four women in the San Francisco area.

According to www.locavores.com, a Web site run by the founders of locavorism, the average meal travels 1,500 miles before it lands on your plate.

"This globalization of the food supply has serious consequences for the environment, our health, our communities and our tastebuds," it says. "Because uncounted costs of this long distance journey (air pollution and global warming, the ecological costs of large scale monoculture, the loss of family farms and local community dollars) are not paid for at the checkout counter, many of us do not think about them at all."

Fact Box

10 advantages to eating local food:

1. Local farmers choose their varieties based on good flavor instead of shipping characteristics

2. If the produce tastes good it is more likely to be eaten (by kids especially!)

3. Produce ripened on the plant has more flavor and nutrients

4. Farmers often grow unusual varieties for a true gourmet experience

5. Support family farms and neighbors

6. Conserve farmland and your community

7. Fewer miles from field to table reduces fossil fuel consumption and resulting air pollution

8. Know your farmer and support production methods you believe in

9. Reduced time from harvest to consumer keeps produce fresh without waxing

10. Reduced packaging and reduced waste

-List provided by Laurie Davis and Anita Deming

of Adirondack Harvest

Tri-Lakes locavores have a good variety of options during the summer and into the fall. Farmers' markets are held in Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Elizabethtown, Keene, Wilmington, Schroon Lake and at Paul Smith's College. Some are weekly; others are held at more erratic intervals. These are producer-only markets, meaning only those who produce the food can sell at them.

"At producer-only markets, the consumers know that the product was grown locally," said Anita Deming, executive director of Adirondack Harvest, an organization dedicated to promoting and encouraging local agriculture. "Some 'farmers' grow a few things at their farm and buy in the rest for resale. These products are usually good, but they undermine the other farmers at the market who are dealing with the short, cool growing season found in the Adirondacks. Some may misrepresent their product as local, and this is just plain not right."

Locally-grown produce can also be obtained at some stores, such as Nori's in Saranac Lake and Green Goddess Natural Foods in Lake Placid. Price Chopper and Grand Union sell some local products, as well.

The increased interest in locally-grown food has led to the creation of more farmers' markets. Three trial runs of a new farmers' market were held at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake this year.

"There is a lot of interest," said Ellen Beberman, who helped to organize it. "We'll probably do a weekly market in Tupper Lake next year."

This year's third and final trial run at the Wild Center will be held Oct. 2.

Beberman manages both the new market at the Wild Center and the one at Paul Smith's College, which was inaugurated last year and is held on Fridays. She also owns Sunwarm Gardens in Vermontville. At her stand in Tupper Lake, she was selling shallots (an onion, but milder than regular onions), sugar melons, rattlesnake beans and watermelons.

Deming said Adirondack Harvest has increased to 74 members in Essex County from an original 35. She said there are many advantages to buying local, including better taste, more unusual varieties, knowing what you are buying and being able to support your community.

"The local food movement is booming at a community level all the way up to nationally," said Laurie Davis, coordinator for Adirondack Harvest and a farmer herself. "Many people are seeking a return to fresher, simpler foods and often these are foods that don't ship well, thus a local market benefits by selling these items. Another reason, unfortunately, is that there have been repeated scares about the safety of food produced in our industrialized food system. When you purchase food produced locally you have a chance to know your producer and the farm's production methods."

Farmers' markets are nothing new. However, the recent increase in interest in local foods has gone hand-in-glove with the older movement toward organic foods, which started to become popular in the U.S. and western Europe in the 1970s. Many of the offerings at farmers' markets are grown without pesticides, and many farmers now emphasize both their local roots and their organic production methods. Clover Mead Farms in Chesterfield, which brags of "Nearly 200 years of farming tradition," advertises its foods as inspected by a third party for organic certification.

"With third party certification, you don't have to just take our word for it when we say we are organic. We're certified organic!"

However, the rise in interest has also inspired newcomers. Beth Spaugh-Barber started farming in 2000, and has been doing it full-time since 2004.

"It felt like it's what I'm supposed to do," she said. "Timing worked for me, as my job had been eliminated, but I was trying to get my job down to half-time."

Spaugh-Barber owns the Rehobeth Homestead Farm in Peru along with her husband, Tony Barber. At her stand at the Lake Placid Farmers' Market, she had a wide variety of products, including chicken, Muscovy duck, eggs, flowers, onions, broccoli, and a selection of multiple types of tomatoes, both heirlooms and the common modern hybrids.

Spaugh-Barber also sells her wares at the Plattsburgh Farmers' Green Market on Thursdays.

Rhonda Butler owns Asgaard Farm in Au Sable Forks jointly with her husband. The farm used to be owned by the artist Rockwell Kent. This is their first year running the farm as a working farm. Their mainstay is goat cheese, which is produced with the help of cheesemaker Kristen Sandler. They sell it seasonally at the Lake Placid Farmers' Market and throughout the year at their farm.

"We acquired this farm some years ago," Butler said. "It was always our intention to turn it into a working farm."

Butler said she bought some kid goats for her daughter several years ago, originally as pets.

"We fell in love with them," she said. "That became our anchor business, the goat dairy."

She said they also raise beef cattle, and grow wheat, rye and hay.

"We're step by step turning it back into a working farm," she said.

Butler said goats can be milked from March or April, when they give birth, until mid-December. She saves some milk to produce goat milk soap in the winter. She and Sandler said this soap is healthier for your skin than the more abrasive, factory-made soaps in the supermarket.

"It has a soothing effect," Butler said. "Nice lather, but still very creamy."

"It's supposed to moisturize dry skin and be very good for skin problems," Sandler said. Drinking goat's milk, she added, is also healthy for people with problems such as eczema.

But, regardless of whether you're looking for goat cheese, onions or tomatoes, the season is winding down, and many farmers' markets will be closing for the winter in a month or two, so if you haven't yet had your fill of local produce, hurry up.

Contact Nathan Brown at 891-2600 ext. 26 or nbrown@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.

 
 

 

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