Bloom where you are planted: Are you a locavore?

I heard a new term this morning: “locavore.” This is someone who eats food that is produced/grown locally. The concept isn’t new, but I’d not realized there was now a “locavore movement” named for it.

Apparently, locavore was the New Oxford American Dictionary’s “word of the year” in 2007.

I am still trying to track down the source of “Bloom where you are planted” — a quote that seems particularly fitting for the locavore movement. People assume this is in the Bible — and the sentiment certainly is there — but I’ve yet to find this quote. Others claim this is from an Afghan proverb, or that the quote first appeared in a popular song.

Regardless of this its origin, I have to admit that I used to cringe when I read or heard this quote. Growing up, I took it to mean that you were stuck with your circumstances, so you might as well stop reaching for something better or trying to improve your situation. I have some ideas on why I took this aphorism to be antithetical to ambition in those days, but only recently have I come to equate it with other, more action-inspiring sayings like “Think globally, act locally” and one of my favorite quotes from Arthur Ashe:

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

This perfectly fits the philosophy of being a locavore.

Some locavores will designate a radius — say 50 or 100 miles — beyond which they will not purchase foods. If you’re a locavore and you’re craving asparagus but they’re out of season in your area and the only ones available have been imported from another country, too bad. But being a locavore isn’t so much about learning to do without as it is learning to do more with what’s immediately available.

So what do locavores do? Locavores frequent their community farmers markets for the freshest, most sustainably grown produce around. When you shop at the farmers market, you can meet and get to know your area farmers and ranchers — which helps build the local economy and means you know exactly where your food is coming from.

Locavores might sign up for weekly produce delivery from a particular farm or community supported agriculture group, like Organics to You in Portland, Oregon. These subscription services bring fresh produce right to your door on a weekly basis. If you’re interested in signing up but don’t think you’ll be able to consume all the food each week, you can learn how to preserve/can produce to enjoy year-round — even when those fruits and vegetables aren’t in season — or you can share a subscription with neighbors or co-workers.

Want to know and do more?

You can read Jennifer Maiser’s “Ten Steps to Becoming a Locavore.” And you can ponder Arthur Ashe’s words of wisdom. What’s available to you locally? What resources can you take advantage of? What can you do — big or small — to be a more conscious and active part of your local food chain?

You could say the locavore movement has a solid handle on what it means to “bloom where you are planted.” These are the folks who are saying “Yes!” to local resources and who are helping their communities thrive.

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