I have just shed my ignorance over the term “locavores”. If you don’t know who they are don’t fret the issue. In short they are a cohort of food fanatics that will only eat meals prepared from ingredients derived from farms located within 100 miles of their residences- mostly in California, New York City and hamlets in New England-natch. The term “locavore” embodies “local” and “to eat” which originated, where else but in San Francisco. The prophet Gary Nabhan, (Coming Home to Eat) in Arizona stimulated the movement in 2001 and Jessica Prentice now serves as the major disciple. As with any fad movement, web sites are the life blood with , < eatlocalchallenge.com> and informing and encouraging the followers of the lifestyle.

Locavores display variations in compliance and intensity. “Extremist” Locavores will only consume meals prepared from ingredients totally derived from their locality. They must eschew any product which is railed, airlifted, shipped, trucked or barged beyond the statutory distance in order to conserve fuel and resources. Many, as recounted by freelance writer Manny Howard, even try to subsist from their own agronomic endeavors, repeating the folly of the Jamestown Colony. The “Marco Polos” will try to conform to the 100 mile restriction except when critical needs are concerned. Life’s necessities such as chocolate, coffee, sugar, alcohol and salt are discretely incorporated in their diets. The morally weak “Wild Card” locavores  are extremely flexible as to their intensity but probably have the greatest potential for survival over the long term. This is evidenced by anecdotal reports of considerable weight loss among adherents and the possibility of nutritional deficiencies and food borne disease from home grown and processed items.

It seems that this splinter group has become bored with the “organic” appellation. They have developed a new spectrum of dietary restrictions which incorporate the concepts of “sustainability”, “conservation of energy” and “greenness”. Blogs suggest that the carnivore sub-set have difficulty in actually slaughtering and dressing out their furred and feathered projects so there is a strong overtone of veganism in the movement. Some of the more flexible locavores have been observed wielding state maps and compasses in Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. This ignores the principle that the ingredients used to feed their protein purchases also should have been grown and processed in the “magic circle”.

Is the Locavore movement a transitory fad or caprice? Is there a marketing message in their needs? Is integrated and efficient agriculture ignoring a trend which is not superficially apparent? We have made tremendous strides in productivity with less than 4% of our population (materially supplemented by ‘guest workers’), providing inexpensive, nutritious and wholesome food for our Nation and export clients. Our agribusiness system relies on concentration, economies of scale and distribution of food over the Interstate highway, rail and river infrastructure. Adopting the locavore approach would lead to mass starvation rather than reversion to an idyllic 17th Century status of harmony with nature. It is evident that the “back-to-nature” fraternity has discounted the obvious contributions of organized agriculture and world trade to the tremendous extension of lifespan, improved health, cultural diversity, convenience and creativity of the US population.