What does this mean?

What is a locavore?

A woman picking up her weekly CSA share.

A locavore is someone who eats food grown or produced locally. The term was coined by Jessica Prentice from the San Francisco Bay Area to describe and promote the practice of eating food harvested from within 100 miles of one's home. The New Oxford American Dictionary chose locavore as its word of the year in 2007.

Although the 100-mile radius is traditionally used, the meaning of "local" varies among locavores. Local can mean your community, region or state depending on how close the product you want is grown from you. If the closest farm to you is 200 miles away, your definition of local will be different than someone living in a more rural environment.

What is the local food movement?

According to Time, the local food movement started in August 2005 in San Francisco when four foodies, inspired by Gary Paul Nabham's book "Coming Home to Eat," launched the first Eat Local Challenge. More and more people caught on to the idea, and the next year the challenge was held in the less plentiful month of May.

"With gas prices spiking, people are concerned about our dependence on petroleum," said Jessica Prentice, one of the challenge's founders. "Why import apples from New Zealand when we can grow them nearby?"

California has one of the most productive climates for agriculture. But the idea of eating locally has since spread around the U.S. and the world, to places where buying food produced in industrial factories and shipped around the globe is the norm.

Is eating locally the answer to the world's health and energy problems?

Eating locally is based on reducing the miles your food travels before you buy it. However, this distance is not an accurate measurement of the energy used to produce the food. Even food grown locally is sometimes shipped far away for processing before it comes back to your community for you to buy. Plus, transportation is just one way energy is used when producing food. Planting, fertilizing, harvesting, processing, packaging and the addition of chemicals also require energy.

As far as the world's health problems, many people will have to become locavores before we will see the one million obese and one million hungry people lead healthy lives.

There are obviously more problems in the current food industry that eating locally will not solve. But reducing the health, economic and environmental costs of preserving and transporting our food is one important way you can impact yourself, your community and our world.

Didn't people eat locally in the past? What happened?

A family enjoying a home-cooked meal together.

Less than 100 years ago, household routines included cooking from scratch and canning preserves for the winter. Households relied on local food production, and the biggest nutritional problems at the time were low calorie consumption and inadequate intakes of vitamins and minerals.

Today, the American agricultural system is an intricate network of processors, refiners, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers that changes our food into what we buy at the store. This system allows us to enjoy year-round abundance of nutritious and affordable foods, but it also causes a multitude of new health problems.

I don't live in Gainesville. How can I become a locavore?

You can search for the same resources--farmers markets, CSAs, community gardens, etc.--in your own community. If none of those options are available to you, maybe you could start one!