Two hundred thirty years ago everyone was a localvore.
Farming was the predominant economic activity in New Hampshire in colonial years and in the early years of statehood.
At that time all New Hampshire residents ate food that originated within 100 miles of their home. A good deal of their basic meal components came from their own back yard, or that of their neighbors. Even if they weren’t farmers, your New Hampshire ancestors often grew their seasoning herbs, and raised their own chickens for eggs, or collected dandelions for salads or to make wine.
Over the years the people of New Hampshire moved away from this ideal scenario. By the mid 1800s, the population was increasingly moving to the cities, where there often was no garden space available. As quicker and cheaper methods of transportation became available and convenient, fruit and vegetables from a distance could arrive sometimes as soon as local produce to the marketplace. New Hampshire could not compete in more distant markets with the farms of the Midwest.
Like one domino hitting another, the events played out, until the number of New Hampshire farms and farming families decreased dramatically. Money was then consistently leaving the local farming economy.
New Hampshire is working hard to reverse the damage done over time to these local farms and rural communities. Already many New Hampshirites are eating locally and promoting the purchase of locally grown foods. Most localvores suggest that you eat produce and use products grown within a 100-mile radius of where you live.
Valley Food & Farm is an Upper Connecticut Valley (New Hampshire & Vermont) program to promote local agriculture as a part of daily community life. Besides posters touting “Local Farms – Healthy Communities”, they hold a variety of local-food-focused special events such as “Flavors of the Valley”. They’ve even published a “Monthly Guide to Finding Locally Grown Foods.”
Buying foods locally can have positive economic, environmental, political and health benefits for your home town or area in New Hampshire. The most recent and recurring concern about the availability of oil, stressed the need to change our fuel-consumption behavior. Each time you buy locally grown food [notice there is a difference between buying non-local food in a local store, as opposed to buying from local farmers or producers], you save on the both the gasoline used in transporting the products to your local grocery store, and you to the same location. If you aren’t buying locally, the average miles food travels to get on your plate is fifteen hundred miles to get from farm to supermarket — aren’t you shocked by this statistic?
Play the detective the next time you are at the supermarket–before you buy, flip the bag of produce over and see where it comes from. Is it a bag of apples from Chile or one from New Hampshire? You make the choice.
Buying locally also keeps the farms in business, maintaining the open pastures, instead of the next housing development. SEE the Top Ten Reasons to East Locally. Marcia Passos Duffy, publisher and editor of The Heart of New England, says “This week while at your supermarket, try buying one or two products that come from your local area. Or visit your local farmers’ market. It’s these small choices made everyday by people like you and me that can tip the scales in favor our rural heritage and can save family farms from being plowed under into yet another strip mall.”
Sometimes going back to the way it used to be done, is a good thing. As Joanie says, “It’s funny how it just takes a friend, a farm stand, some hungry and sociable goats, and a proper (non-processed) meal to make the big, crappy things in life seem quite trivial.”
– Additional Reading –
Hannah Grimes Marketplace, Keene NH
For more information on the localvore activities, in Northern New England