One manifestation of localism that clearly has taken off in the past few years is “locavorism.” The local food movement seems to be flourishing wherever there are affluent, discerning consumers, adventurous chefs and an ample supply of smallish, family-owned farms committed to diversified crops (and/or livestock) and direct-to-consumer marketing.
Here in the Delaware River Valley, where farmers markets, farm stands, farm-owned full-service groceries and CSAs are in no short supply, the idea that buying local food is a good idea is an easy sell. Like other local food havens around the country, the river valley has been attracting a new generation of farmers, generally committed to organic or sustainable practices. It’s often these folks who we have to thank for making speciality items — artisanal cheeses, grass-fed meats, exotic mushrooms — readily available without a trip to the city (or at least a gourmet shop). What I find even more exciting is how so many of the area’s older farms, those that have been passed down through a few generations, are responding to the growing demand for fresh local food. They are hosting farm-to-table dinners, hiring recent ag grads to help them implement sustainable farming practices, promoting hormone- and antibiotic-free products as well as pasture-raised beef and hydroponically grown lettuce, even planting fields of solar panels to help power their farms. All of this is testament to the fact that, as one farmer put it recently, “we’re really on the cusp of something good.”