January 09, 2008

Livin' La Vida Locavore

Focaccia with Local Cherry Tomatoes

Because “locavore” was named 2007’s word of the year by the New Oxford American Dictionary, I thought it would be fun to research and write an article about the history of Philadelphia’s local food system and how Philadelphia has become a model for other communities around the country. The article is called Cult of Seasonality and you can find it in this week’s City Paper.

Philadelphia’s local food system is more advanced than you may think. For example, in researching the article I learned about a unique business called Farm Fresh Express—which, in some ways, is a more flexible alternative to CSAs. First, there's no commitment. Second, they have a wide variety of choices each week because co-owners Mary Ann Flaherty and Pam Nelson source from many local farms and other local food purveyors. Third, they offer the flexibility to order in any quantity you choose. Fourth, they will even have the food delivered straight to your door, even in Center City, for a mere $10 delivery fee. According to Flaherty, “Some of our customers have told us that they’ve basically stopped going to the grocery store except for toilet paper.”

Photo from James's Buy Fresh Buy Local Happy Hour, July 2007.


learp17 said...

I live about two minutes away from Farm Fresh Express and have been thinking about checking them out for a while. Thanks for highlighting them in your post - I hope they get a lot more exposure and more people start using them. We know people who use and highly recommend them.

Leah Ingram said...

As I've written in my blog here http://suddenlyfrugal.blogspot.com/2007/12/are-you-crazy-enough-to-be-locavore_15.html , the real challenge lies in finding local foods during the off season. During warm weather months, CSAs are up and running as are the farmers markets, like the ones in Bucks County where I live. But out here in the burbs, being a locavore year round can be a real challenge. If you've got tips to share, I'd love to read them.


PhilaFoodie said...

Leah: You're right; it can be challenging during the winter months. Here are some tips I gleaned in my research:

1. Locavores often prepare for winter months by canning food in the summer.

2. An important part of the locavore movement is to begin to think about food around seasonality and to adjust your eating habits accordingly. For example, root vegetables are plentiful during the winter, so you should be eating those instead of asparagus shipped from Chile.

3. I'm not sure if Farm Fresh Express delivers to Bucks County, but if they do, they seem to have a wide variety of local foods.

4. Die hard locavores don't expect everyone to eat exclusively local food. Even Judy Wicks doesn't do that. That's not the point. The point is to eat local as much as you can. And, importantly, to become conscious of what you eat and where it came from.

Andy Meddick said...

Hi, I own Good For You Natural Market in Lewes, DE. We are our area's Whole Foods Market, seriously! We also have a small, organic produce farm where we grow and sell local chemical-free produce. We pull customers from the Phildadelphia areas during beach visits. The locavore movement is a movement close to my heart, so thank you for your blog. However, for us in Southern DE, local has to have a wider radius than that defined, ironically for metro areas. Due to the absence of much of anything in the way of locally grown, produced, manufactured, or sold, I am forced to consider a 250 mile radius as local. This distance encompasses metro Philadelphia, NJ, PA, DC, MD, Baltimore and VA. We are a pioneering green beacon in this area. I applaud those wonderful people who support local - farms, growers, producers, retailers. Please help us get the word out and bring more people through the doors so we can continue to offer choices others are choosing to ignore and hopefully stimulate others to grow and produce, and sell local. Thanks, Andy Meddick.