Ok, ok, so that's a bit of an exaggeration -- but lately I'm finding more and more that the parameters surrounding local foods are getting a little fuzzy. With no clear or standardized definition, no one agency to oversee or control it, the world of "local" is a nebulous one, marked as much by emotion and opinion as by science, rules and mileages.
I'm not saying this flexibility is necessarily a bad thing, but it has allowed "local" to be co-opted by nearly everyone, each tweaking the word just enough to fit within their means. Even Hellmann's Mayonnaise is in on it. But I digress (and plus, I'll have more on that later).
The New Oxford American Dictionary, which honored "locavore" as its word of the year in 2007, is equally as non-committal, defining the term as "a person who seeks out locally produced food." Of course, that begs the question, what does "locally produced food" mean? Seriously folks, it's like going after a moving target for 40 hours a week.
And, even though we at Local Food Hub have our own ideas and guidelines about what we consider local, the world does not always follow our rules, no matter how much we insist. :)
So what's a girl to do? Well, in this case, I'm asking you. If you're reading this, it means you probably have some interest in "local" food, farming, agriculture (or you just Googled "asparagus berry"). I'm interested in what you have to say.
Here's what I'd like to know:
- How do you define "local?" Is it a 60-mile radius from your home? 1000-mile? State-wide? Region-wide? Does it vary depending on the product?
- How strict are you? Do you abstain from tomatoes in winter, skip citrus and olives and coffee always, or do you make exceptions for certain things?
- If you do pay attention to what's local, why? Carbon footprint? Economic impact? Community support? Food safety? Something else?
Feel free to leave a comment here, on Facebook, or Twitter, or send me an email: emily [at] localfoodhub.org. I'll chime in later with Local Food Hub's thoughts (and maybe highlight some of yours, too). Looking forward to hearing what you have to say!